Running until 12th June at Hošek Contemporary, a ship and exhibition space on the river Spree in Berlin, is Spacelab - Into the Unknown part of the series Artist on the Moon. It showcases the work of the Icelandic artist Borghildur Indriðadóttir, whose ambition is, in the next few years to fly to the Moon and perform a contemporary dance piece that will be live-streamed back to Earth! Is it lunacy?
52 years on, since the pivotal moment in world history when in July 1969 the first man stepped foot on the moon the idea of space travel persists in modern conversation. Today, rather than Soviet Union versus America, it represents (in the mainstream) a squaring up between the richest men alive- Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, and their respective space travel projects. However this artist has other ideas - rather than treating the moon as a colonial or patriarchal space for ownership, conquest or personal gain this exhibition asks, "what claims are being made in relation to unmanned territories? What hierarchies and systems emerge? How can women assert themselves within patriarchal structures?" And perhaps also, what if interstellar exploration was a shared goal and communal achievement rather than an assertion of dominance?

Artist on the Moon is being developed alongside acknowledged institutions and scientists such as Bernard Foing, director of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), EuroMoonMars, and former senior scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA). This year, while undergoing rigorous training programmes to gain the mental and physical fitness required for space travel, Borghildur is working with various international research groups, and carrying out a number of trips to scientific research centres across the globe. We discuss her most exciting project.

“Unlike previous missions to the Moon, which saw national flags raised and pieces of rock ripped from the surface and taken back to Earth, implying ownership or conquest, this project does not seek to claim dominion over anything. Rejecting colonial visions in favour of the peaceful gesture.”
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 6.jpg
How did your project Artist on the Moon start? What inspired you?
I don’t know when the project started but I think that the mystery of Artist on the Moon was born through my fascination with the Icelandic highlands which I have encountered every summer since I was a child. These moonlike landscapes give me this feeling of space and galactic existence. The project and the name came into shape in 2018 as Artist on the Moon defined itself from visits and talks to scientists at the European Space Agency. Prof. Foing discovered my work at an exhibition in 2018, at an exhibition called Earth Homing. I had a lot of ideas of what kind of project this was supposed to be, and a lot of people wanted to be involved with it, but through conversations with friends and collaborators from the art and science world I could define it. I am making artworks and exhibiting them and I aim to fly to the Moon to be able to share with everyone A Performance for the Stars.
What limitations do you have to consider for movement when performing in a space suit?
When working on the choreography training, we keep in mind movement of the body in a space suit that is bulky with tubes and [design elements] made for nutrition and protection from things like space dust. The limitations can sometimes be the inspiration, and we have to consider also the 1,62 m/s² gravity that will affect the postures and physical shapes that are possible to create. We also consider the camera that will record this performance.
How will your performance you intend to do on the Moon be different to the one on Earth in Berlin?
Yes it will be similar, just different since the performance is on the Moon.
So if you see my performances on Earth during the next four years before I fly to the moon, you will get an idea of what will happen on the Moon itself. It [Artist on the Moon] is a creative ensemble of the process of my findings, but then the Moon performance will have this extra something. The project aims to be exhibited in museums and galleries until its final launch. I’m excited to share with you that this process has already started with the performance the Missing Rock (2019) and the exhibition SPACELAB – Into The Unknown that opened last week. Later this year I will also showcase the point is the Moon and this is the rock and hope to have opportunities to exhibit in more exciting places.
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 3.jpg
Why did you choose Berlin?
I love this city and my Neukölln crew! Maybe I sound like a broken record right now but Berlin really is one of the best places for visual artists to make things happen. My parents studied here when I was a kid and I liked it already then for its grunge appeal and freedom, now I just go back and forth to Iceland when I can. I like to be at the place with the right vibe and it is one of these places where I can feel free to make my art and stimulate my ideas.
You wrote the performance centres on a de-colonial approach to interacting with nature. Do we even need a human element in the Moon's performance? Why do you want to be physically there?
Naturally it is part of the performance and the whole concept. The performance only exists if I return the missing rock myself to the Moon and perform for the stars.
Some pre-colonial Chilean religious traditions relate the nature of rebirth and spirituality to the stars. Is there a spiritual practice that inspired your project?
Lovely question, you might be referring to the Mapuche religion. I definitely am inspired by spiritual traditions honoring the stars. I like to study and wrap my head around what they convey and how pre-colonial societies practiced and conducted rituals to the stars.
Artist on the Moon is a unique project and I will reveal my personal findings and spiritual connections within each artwork that I showcase, sometimes in the form of ritual, sometimes in the images that hold these connections.
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 5.jpg
Colonialism is a problem with the history of many European countries, and it is important for everyone to speak up, but also listen. Who have you read or listened to that inspires your conversation on colonialism?
I have read Landnámabók or the book of settlements (detailed descriptions on the settlers of Iceland), Elements of Architecture, Building with Intelligence (IL41 series), Aðalskipulag Reykjavíkur 2010 – 2030, SMLXL (Rem Koolhaas & Bruce Mau), The Paris Agreement, Colonialism in Greenland: Tradition, Governance and Legacy, The Outer Space Treaty, Kona kemur við sögu. And some of my main favorite books that I have to dive into are Les dessous de Tank Girl and the Art of Earth Architecture, OTHER MINDS: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life and Íslenskur fuglavísir. I’ve listened to my Greenlandic friends and they inspire me to work on these topics and in conversation, they say that the complex issues of colonialism are often oversimplified and hope for a solid ground, inclusive, fact-based and truthful dialogue in a constructive environment.
What are your hopes for the future?
To continue to showcase my artworks in exciting exhibition spaces to an inspiring audience.
SPACELAB - Into the Unknown as part of Artist on the Moon. Exhibited at Hošek Contemporary, Berlin.
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 8.jpg
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 11.jpg
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 10.jpg
Borghildur Indridadottir Metalmagazine 9.jpg