Agnes Meyer-Brandis’s poetic-scientific investigations weave fact, imagination, storytelling and myth, past, present and future. In Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, a major commission, the artist developed an ongoing narrative based on the book The Man in the Moone, written by the English bishop Francis Godwin in 1603, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by ‘moon geese’. Meyer-Brandis actualised this concept by raising eleven moon geese from birth within her project Moon Goose Colony at Pollinaria in Italy; giving them astronauts’ names*, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother, training them to fly and taking them on expeditions and housing them in a remote Moon analogue habitat. (* Neil, Svetlana, Gonzales, Valentina, Friede, Juri, Buzz, Kaguya-Anousheh, Irena, Rakesh, Konstantin-Hermann)
The remote analogue habitat simulates the conditions of the Moon and was accessed and operated from Meyer-Brandis’s control room installation within the gallery, where instructional videos, photographs and vitrines of the geese’s egg shells and footprints were displayed.
Meyer-Brandis developed the contested history of Godwin’s original fiction – posthumously and pseudonymously published as if the genuine account of the travels of Domingo Gonsales. She wove a narrative that explores the observer’s understanding of the fictitious and the factual, with a nod to notions of the believably absurd.
Oxford academic, William Poole , in his Preface to the 2009 edition of The Man in the Moone , explains the importance of Godwin’s work, “First, it is a work of literary sophistication. It is narrated by a slightly implausible figure who does a number of very implausible things, not least fly to the moon and back.…its supposed time-frame further heightens readerly problems about who and what to trust in this text, and why… its finely integrated discussion of various state-of-the-art ideas about astronomy and cosmology – magnetic attraction, diurnal rotation, and the possibility of interplanetary travel and extraterrestrial life. The dramatisation of these discussions in The Man in the Moone is at once a form of popular science and also a form of popular fiction. This is the age-old problem of fiction – the probable impossible intermingled with the possible improbable."
A film in 19 installments by Agnes Meyer-Brandis tells the story of the artist's project to raise and imprint her colony of Moon Geese and train them for life on the Moon, watch the introduction here.
Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, 2011 links directly to Meyer-Brandis's, Moon Goose Colony, 2011, a project during her residency at Pollinaria, Italy, the site of the remote analogue habitat where the artist has raised and houses the colony of moon geese.
1 William Poole is John Galsworthy Fellow, New College, Oxford, and author of The World Makers: Scientists of the Restoration and the Search for the Origins of the Earth (2010).
2 The Man in the Moone (1638) (Broadview Editions) by Francis Godwin and William Poole (Paperback - 1 Nov 2009), preface
Commissioned with FACT and first shows in Republic of the Moon, Dec 2011-Feb 2012 at FACT, Liverpool
Presented with AV Festival, Newcastle-Gateshead, 2012
Agnes Meyer-Brandis is an artist based in Berlin, Germany and has been involved in two major Arts Catalyst initiatives. Meyer-Brandis’ artistic practice is influenced by scientific research focused on the exploration of new worlds. Meyer-Brandis is the founder and director of the Research Raft for Subterranean Reefology (FFUR) which has explored deep in the dark zone above the earth and ice. In March 2011, Meyer-Brandis attended The Arts Catalyst’s Kosmica evening to talk about art, science and weightlessness. At this event, the artist explained details about her project Cloud-Core-Scanner, which involved a microgravity-generating flying manoeuvre carried out with the DLR (German Aerospace Centre). In late 2011, Agnes Meyer-Brandis was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for a project with the touring exhibition “Republic of the Moon” curated by Rob la Frenais. This project was entitled “The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility”. For this project, Meyer-Brandis was inspired by the book “The Man in the Moone” written by the English bishop Francis Godwin in 1603, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by “moon geese”. To make the “moon geese” concept a reality, the artist raised eleven moon geese from birth in Pollinaria, Italy. The geese were named after the astronauts Neil, Svetlana, Gozales, Valentina, Friede, Juri, Buzz, Kaguya-Anousheh, Irena, Rakesh and Konstantin-Hermann. Additionally, Meyer-Brandis taught the geese to fly, took the geese on expeditions and housed them in a remote Moon analogue habitat which simulates the conditions of the moon. For the Republic of the Moon exhibition, the artist constructed a control room installation within a number of galleries around Europe and America, where visitors could interact with the geese. This exhibition also displayed instructional videos, photographs and vitrines of the geese’s egg shells and footprints. “Moon Goose Analogue” was exhibited at the following galleries; Culver Center of the Arts in Los Angeles USA, GAK Gesellschaft fur Aktuelle Kunst in Bremen Germany, Kunstmuseum Bonn in Germany, Zuivelmarkt 33 in Hasselt, Belgium, FACT in Liverpool UK, Great North Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne UK and Exhibition Cyberarts in Linz, Austria. In April 2013, Agnes Meyer-Brandis attended the Yuri’s Night Kosmica at Zuivelmarkt 33 in Belgium to talk about how she started the Moon Goose project and exhibited the control room of Moon Goose Analogue as part of Space Odyssey 2.0.