Swedish Artist Wants to Put a Sculpture on the Moon

Mikael Genberg is crowd-funding the project, set to launch next fall.

Mikael Genberg, rendering of The Moonhouse. Photo: courtesy the artist's website.
Mikael Genberg, rendering of The Moonhouse. Photo: courtesy the artist's website.

Swedish artist Mikael Genberg seems set to fulfill a over-a-decade-old dream of sending a sculpture to the moon, reports the Guardian. A red house with white trim large enough for a man to stand inside, The Moonhouse will automatically unfold upon arrival, and remain as a permanent structure on the lunar surface.

The extraterrestrial art project will draw on crowd-funding to make the 238,900-mile journey, which is expected to cost $15 million—as of this writing, with 186 days left, the crowd-funding campaign has raised just $1,013 of that sum. Nevertheless, Genberg has the support of Sweden’s only astronaut, Christer Fuglesang, and the 250-year-old Swedish house-painting company Falu Rödfärg, which will be painting Moonhouse its signature Falu red. Genberg is no stranger to setting up makeshift habitats in inhospitable settings; in 2000 he created an underwater hotel room as a far-fetched installation art piece, and it continues to host guests to this day as the Genberg Underwater Hotels.

Nor is this the first attempt to send artwork to another planetary body. Damien Hirst launched a small version of one of his iconic spot paintings on the Beagle 2 in 2002. The British spacecraft was headed to Mars, but scientists lost contact with the vessel before it reached the planet, and it was presumably destroyed, along with the Hirst canvas.

More successful were the crew of Apollo 15, who in 1971 installed Fallen Astronaut, a three-and-a-half-inch Paul van Hoeydonck sculpture on the moon. The tiny human figure was placed face down next to a plaque commemorating the eight American astronauts and six Soviet cosmonauts who had died during the space race. A less official art project in orbit was undertaken by the French street artist Invader, who sent one of this trademark video game mosaics into space in 2012. Also in 2012, artist Trevor Paglen‘s conceptual photography project The Last Pictures was sent into orbit aboard the EchoStar XVI communications satellite. It is due to continue circling the globe long after the human species is extinct.

There has also been an artwork of sorts to leave the solar system, aboard 1970s-era spacecraft Voyager 1. The space probe, which left earth over 36 years ago, is the only man-made object to have ever reached interstellar space. It carries with it the Golden Record, an audio-visual time capsule that could conceivably be encountered by an alien race some day. A golden aluminum cover features a diagram that provides a basic key for playing the record, which includes greetings from then-US president Jimmy Carter, examples of some 55 languages, sounds from nature, examples of various types of music, and 118 photos of life on earth.

The Moonhouse is set to take flight with US aerospace technology company Astrobotic in October 2015. It will be the first privately funded voyage to the earth’s satellite.


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