Which artists should SpaceX send to the Moon?September 18, 2018
Yesterday, Elon Musk announced that SpaceX would send Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to the Moon. Maezawa then announced that he would not be going alone. The founder of the Japanese online retailer Zozo, Maezawa is also a famed art collector who once paid $110 million for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. “I choose to go to the Moon with artists,” he said.
Maezawa has bought all the seats on this 2023 (if all goes well) lunar flight. He’ll be picking six to eight artists to join him. “I would like to invite six to eight artists from around the world to join me on this mission to the Moon,” he said. “These artists will be asked to create something after they return to Earth, and these masterpieces will inspire the dreamer within all of us.” Maezawa says he hasn’t decided which artists he’d like to invite yet, but he would like them to represent many different fields, such as painters, musicians, film directors, fashion designers, architects, and more. (He notably did not say “journalists.”) Maezawa calls his project #DearMoon.
The Verge staff discussed who should be sent to the Moon. It’s not about who we think he’ll pick — the man was already wearing a Commes des Garçons shirt, so Rei Kawakubo seems like a good pick — but who would make the most moving art after a week in space.
Angela Chen, science reporter: My first thought was Björk, but that seems too… obvious. My vote is Elizabeth Alexander. Her memoir The Light of the World (which is not about space, but about death, which is like space) is so good at exploring what it feels like to live on this planet. I really want to see what she’d do when taken to another.
Elizabeth Lopatto, deputy editor: I’d like to send Damien Hirst to the fucking Moon and leave him there.
Devon Maloney, internet culture editor: In that context, Liz, I’d also like to submit Quentin Tarantino. It would put his Star Trek movie on indefinite hiatus, while also striking the fear of god into the man. But more seriously: send sculptor Rachel Whiteread. Her plaster casts of interiors are truly stunning to experience, and I’d kill to see what she’d do with the Moon’s surface and / or the infinite emptiness of space.
Tasha Robinson, film and TV editor: I can split the difference between the two of you here. I’d send Anish Kapoor. The man does amazing things with space and conceptual art. Looking at his installation Memory at the Guggenheim literally moved me to tears because the empty space’s fade to black was such an appropriate representation of all the things we experience that are lost to memory. At the same time, his behavior over Vantablack, the groundbreaking black pigment he’s monopolizing, has been selfish and childish. Maybe shooting him into the darkest dark of space for a while will make him reconsider his responsibility to the rest of the world’s artists. (And if not, at least he’s got Vantablack to use when he starts creating his Moon trip-inspired work.)
Andrew Liptak, weekend editor: If you’re sending artists to the Moon, you’ve got to include at least one science fiction author. Two come to mind for me. The first is Nnedi Okorafor, author of Binti and Who Fears Death. Throughout her career, she’s focused on stories from African characters and the future of the continent, and her first-hand experiences from space would be amazing to read. I’d also love to see what Kim Stanley Robinson — author of Red Mars, Aurora, New York 2140, and the forthcoming novel Red Moon — would do with such observations, given the level of realism he puts into his stories and worlds.
Patricia Hernandez, culture reporter: I nominate Bone Bone the cat, who is the best in the art of just standing there.
Shannon Liao, news writer: Is nobody going to mention Janelle Monáe and her extreme love for sci-fi? She’s even starred in the Amazon adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams as an android, a role she’s played around with for years in her albums, concerts, and interviews. I would love to see what she does after an inspired trip to our favorite giant rock. It would be extremely on brand.
Russell Brandom, senior reporter: Maezawa imagines the Moon as a place of great beauty and inspiration, but, in truth, it is a barren waste, a reflection of the cold lifelessness of his own vain ambition. Who could capture this doomed quest, this futile attempt to impose humanity onto a frozen rock so profoundly indifferent to human endeavor? Hard to say, but Werner Herzog seems like a good choice!
Esther Cohen, social media manager: I was really hoping it would be Azealia Banks. Following her very publicized social media feud with Elon Musk, it would have been nice to see them make amends. Azealia’s big personality would also make her a great candidate. We’d just have to hope she wouldn’t get in a fight with anyone else on the way there.
Cory Zapatka, video director: I really think that rather than sending musicians like Azaelia Banks, we should focus on classical musicians like Yo-Yo Ma, whose art is timeless and universal. If this mission goes off without a hitch, these pieces of art (regardless of how good they are…looking at you, Damien), will be instantly known around the world and for centuries to come. I don’t think we will want a lyrical song telling us about the experience, but rather an instrumental that will make us feel the emotions of being on the dark side of the moon. Oh shit, Pink Floyd.
Kara Verlaney, copy editor: Me.