20 July 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. Geelong Gallery exhibition, The Moon has been programmed to coincide with this significant milestone, and brings together artistic responses to the celestial body that orbits the Earth. We chat to Geelong Gallery curator Lisa Sullivan.
Hey Lisa. July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Why is this event so important? What does the moon mean to us?
I think it’s important because it was certainly a huge milestone that NASA achieved. The actual moon landing and the walk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin just signifies such a great achievement for humanity. What’s also significant is this journey to the moon enabled us to look back on Earth. It wasn’t just about venturing off to a new entity, but an opportunity, especially for those astronauts, to turn the camera back onto the Earth and see what we look like from afar… But apart from the space race, this exhibition is about the moon itself and its great inspiration to artists for centuries, whether it’s visual arts, literature, film – any of these creative fields. The moon has really elicited incredible responses from people. It’s a very evocative presence in our night sky, and it impacts us all in terms of illuminating the night sky, and the phases of the moon that we see. Of course, the shape of the moon doesn’t change but our perception of it constantly changes through its monthly cycle around us. I’ve tried to represent this in the exhibition, with different works being displayed in different rooms based on the era, showing how the shape of the moon changes depending on time.
Give us an overview of the exhibition… will it be a totally visual experience?
With our focus being on visual arts, it will largely be on visual arts – 3D art, sculptures, painting, photography, drawings, moving image work. There will also be some documentary works. We also have access to a private collector who has a lot of original NASA photographs, so I’ve selected around seven photographs. I’m also putting together SoundCloud soundtracks of music that has been inspired by the moon – from classical music to music of the time.
Can you touch on some of the works that will be on display at The Moon.
There’s a thematic that looks at the light of the moon in two single-room installations. One is a very scientific work by an artist who has done research into what globe would simulate moonlight, and she’s created a globe that simulates moonlight. In fact, she’s created 289 of them that simulate the average lifetime of a person in the year in which she made that work, 2008. So with the 289 globes, she is saying if someone lives until around 80, they would experience this amount of moonlight. Within the building, we’ll be sharing the experience of moonlight with our visitors. The second installation for that theme is Louise Weaver’s Moonlight Becomes You, which is a beautiful, immersive installation, in which 3D animal forms have been crocheted, and Louise is speculating on what nocturnal animals get up to at night under the light of the moon.
What makes this exhibition a not-to-miss event?
I think it’s the caring of the significant milestone of the 50th anniversary, and the bringing together of the diverse array of works. There are 77 works in the exhibition that will never be seen together in this context. That’s what makes it a not-to-miss event. The 50th anniversary of the moon landing will not come around again so it’s an opportunity for everyone to engage with this huge milestone, and to think about the moon through the eyes of art.
The Moon is exhibiting at Geelong Gallery until 1 September 2019.
Written by Naseem Radmehr
Photo: Georges Méliès: A trip to the moon (Le voyage dans la lune), 1902