“The fallen astronaut” is the title of the exhibition curated by Valentina Lacinio which opens on March 10, 2016 at the Gallery A Plus A. Works by Aldo Aliprandi, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Francesco Arena, Thomas Braida, Stephen Kaltenbach, Rä di Martino, Antonio Fiorentino, Margherita Raso, Fabio Roncato and Alice Ronchi.
Nobody is immune from the problem of preservation of memory and knowledge. This is a millennial obsession that has lasted through the centuries and has influenced even art and its representatives.
This is the reason why the story of The fallen astronaut is unique as unique is the peculiar will by which this little statue was dropped on the moon as long as it represents the first actual monument “erected” on the moon, and the first sculptural form of communication and declaration of existence of our civilization in an extraterrestrial environment.
The meaning of “fallen” is here understood as a symbol of what we rediscover by falling, as if the perfect form for being “astronauts” were precisely to “fall”, because it is from this position that we can contemplate the stars.
Therefore this is the reason for the “fallen astronaut”, a small sculpture, 8.5 cm tall, representing the stylized figure of an astronaut in a space suit. A small operation that is lost in the immense lunar desert.
This miniature was created by the Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck, commissioned by the astronaut David Scott, in order to commemorate those who had died over the years in the name of the progress of space exploration.
It was shaped in aluminium, a material which is light but tough, and especially resistant to strong lunar changes of temperature, which would risk to distort it. The small sculpture went into orbit in 1971 on the Apollo 15 mission and was left on the moon on August 2, 1971. This was the moment when for the first time the only artefact of an artistic kind was ever left by man on the natural satellite.
Two years before the space mission, the artist Stephen Kaltenbach, during the famous show When Attitude Becomes Form (1969) wrote two letters to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The first on 2 April 1969 in which he announced his desire to create “a cast of the left boot of Neil Armstrong”, the second in October of the same year in which he suggested the use of orbiting spacecraft as storage for information which goes beyond time and terrestrial space.
The letters remained unanswered and the work dedicated to Armstrong unfinished. Kaltenbach’s intuitions related to the conservation of human knowledge are aligned with a number of previous attempts.
First of all, The Crypt of Civilization in Atlanta (1936), Georgia, is considered and officially recorded by the Guinness World Records as the first “time capsule” ever made and meant to be opened in a specific date in the future: May 28 8113.
This capsule represents a real monument, for its size and for its aim: the sealed chamber of a stainless steel door is closed and it contains 800 significant books on various important topics for mankind together with 200 novels.
The meaning of the word monument still remains related to its first etymological significance and today it covers a series of meanings in many areas; from the Latin “monere” – remember, which means potentially to preserve something.
In fact the concepts of “monument” and of “memory preservation”, is charged with a concentration of meanings. The exhibition The fallen astronaut aims to create a three-dimensional configuration in order to challenge the crystallization of knowledge over time, and the anxious rush towards immortality.
The exhibition, starts from the evocation of a historical event and it develops from Stephen Kaltenbach’s visionary projects to the contemporaneity of the chosen artists. The works are connected by the same conceptual and alchemical references in order that they can become the spokesman of their time tremors, charged by the human impulse of imaginative projection into the distant future that will culminate with the burial of a particular capsule dedicated to this same reflection.
- © Antonio Fiorentino, Dominium Melancholiae ( detail), 2015