Republic of the Moon, Liverpool

Leonid Tishkov, Personal Moon
Enter At Own Risk (Prototypes & Experiments), 2011, WE COLONISED THE MOON
Andy Gracie, Drosophila Titanus, 2011
Sharon Houkema, M3
Agnes Meyer Brandis leads a colony of geese at dusk.
Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Republic of the Moon, Moon Goose Colony, Pollinaria, 2011
An illuminated crescent moon standing in front of a cabin located in a snowy mountainous region.
Leonid Tishkov, Republic of the Moon, Personal Moon
Illustrated image of Lijn's idea to write on the moon using a laser beam.
Liliane Lijn, Republic of the Moon, moonmeme
A projected photograph of the moon.
Sharon Houkema, Republic of the Moon, M3
An astronaut sits in a gallery space with a handheld rubbish picker, surrounded by balls of paper.
WE COLONISED THE MOON, Republic of the Moon, 2011, Enter At Own Risk (Prototypes & Experiments)

A touring exhibition of artists' works that reimagine the future of the Moon. Combining lunar narratives, fantasies and futures, Republic  of the Moon reclaims the Moon for artists, idealists, and dreamers.

As the players in the new 21st century race for the Moon line up – the USA rejoining China, India and Russia and jostling with private corporations interested in exploiting the Moon’s resources – a group of artists are declaring a Republic of the Moon: a ‘micronation’ for alternative visions of lunar life.

Republic of the Moon challenges utilitarian plans of lunar mines and military bases with artists’ imaginings and interventions. Combining beguiling fantasies, personal encounters, and playful appropriations of space habitats and scientific technologies, Republic of the Moon reclaims the Moon for artists, idealists, and dreamers.

The last race to the Moon was driven by the political impulses of the Cold War, but shaped by extraordinary visions of space created by writers, film-makers, and artists, from Jules Verne, Lucien Rudaux, and Vasily Levshin, to HG Wells, Stanislav Lem and Stanley Kubrick. Can artists’ quixotic visions reconcile our romantic notions of the Moon with its colonised future, and help us to reimagine our relationship with our natural satellite in the new space age?

Curated by Arts Catalyst and FACT, Republic of the Moon includes major new commissions by Agnes Meyer-Brandis and WE COLONISED THE MOON, and works by Leonid Tishkov, Andy Gracie, Liliane Lijn and Sharon Houkema.

The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, Agnes Meyer-Brandis’ poetic-scientific investigations weave fact, imagination, storytelling and myth, past, present and future. In this major new work  the artist develops 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 has actualised this concept by raising eleven moon geese from birth in Italy, giving them astronauts’ names*, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother, training them to fly and taking them on expeditions. The artist will build a remote Moon analogue habitat for the geese, which will be operated from a control room within the gallery. (* Neil, Svetlana, Gonzales, Valentina, Friede, Juri, Buzz, Kaguya-Anousheh, Irena, Rakesh, Konstantin-Hermann).

Luring us onto the surface of the Moon, WE COLONISED THE MOON (Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser) will create an immersive audience experience, Enter At Own Risk. For this new commission, the artists will create an intimate immersive installation in the form of a laboratory-like room in which a lone astronaut tenderly gardens a group of rocks, spraying them periodically with the smell of the Moon - a scent the artists have had synthesised based on reports from the Apollo crew.  The artists question what is real and what is imagined? the nature of the fake and the authentic object, the art of showmanship and illusion through this experimental performance piece, drawing on the entertainment iconography of early astronaut training.

Leonid Tishkov’s Private Moon, by contrast, brings the Moon down to us. Tishkov tells the story of a man who met the Moon and stayed with her for the rest of his life. In a series of photographs, the artist pairs images of his private moon with verse which describes how the Moon helps us to overcome our loneliness in the universe by uniting us around it. Tishkov and his illuminated moon have travelled the world for almost ten years. He has a dream to fly with her to the Moon.

Transforming the everyday into the mesmerisingly beautiful, Sharon Houkema’s M3, created with characteristic simplicity with an overhead projector and a bucket of water, conjures a moon so tantalisingly close you can almost hold it.

Interweaving artistic metaphor and scientific rigour, Andy Gracie‘s DIY-astrobiology experiment Drosophila Titanus attempts to select and breed an organism – a new strain of fruit fly – that might survive on Titan, a moon of Saturn. The artist recreates the environmental and atmospheric conditions found on Titan using everyday materials such as vodka, smoke alarms and a bicycle pump. The first iteration of the experiment was performed by Gracie with Kuaishen Auson, Janine Fenton and Meredith Walsh, in Laboratory Life co-commissioned by Arts Catalyst and Lighthouse earlier this year.

In Liliane Lijn’s moonmeme, the artist reveals her concept to write on the Moon from the Earth using a laser beam. The word ‘SHE' is projected onto the surface of the moon, the meaning of this word being gradually transformed as the Moon moves through its phases, the work combines territorial appropriation, the technological extension of human consciousness and mythologies. moonmeme is a symbolic union of opposites and an homage to the feminine principal of transformation and renewal.

The artists in Republic of the Moon regard the lunar orb not as a resource to be exploited but as a heavenly body that belongs to us all. Who will be the first colonisers of the Moon? Perhaps it should be the artists.

Occupy the Moon

To coincide with the opening of Republic of the Moon, Arts Catalyst has commissioned Tony White to write a short fiction Occupy the Moon.

Republic of the Moon: Artist's Breakfast

10.00am, Fri 16 December 2011
The Box, FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ
Breakfast with the artsits and curators of the exhibition Republic of the Moon

Artists Agnes Meyer-Brandis, Leonid Tishkov, Liliane Lijn and Andy Gracie discuss their work with The Arts Catalyst's curator Rob La Frenais and FACT's Mike Stubbs.

Crash - Moonlanding Workshop
Fri 16 December 2011 - Sun 26 February 2012
FACT, 88 Wood Street, Liverpool L1 4DQ, UK

In conjunction with Republic of the Moon Exhibition, at FACT, Liverpool, WE COLONISED THE MOON (Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser) held a series of workshops for young people taking inspiration from unplanned disasters in space.


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. 
Liliane Lijn has worked across media – kinetic sculpture, film, performance and collage – to explore language, mythology and the relationship between light and matter. In 2005, Lijn was ACE NASA, Leonardo Network artist in residence at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2013, Lijn was one of the six artists short-listed to produce a sculpture for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. Public commissions include Solar Beacon, a solar installation in collaboration with astrophysicist, John Vallerga on the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge and Light Pyramid, a beacon for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Milton Keynes.
'WE COLONISED THE MOON' consists of two artists, Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser. The artists combine different talents and interests that converge during collaborative projects. Sue Corke is a visual artist with an interest in the theatre of illustration, whilst Hagen Betzwieser’s art practice explores the gaps and connections between art and science with the aim of creating ‘New New Media’. 'WE COLONISED THE MOON' taps into contemporary unease about the future, whilst also offering an entertaining counterpart. In one project, the artists were able to synthesise the smell of the moon based on reports from the Apollo crew. As it is impossible to smell the moon directly, due to the vacuum in space, the reports are based on the scent inhaled when astronauts returned to their landing modules and the dust of the lunar surface reacted with oxygen and moisture for the first time.
Andy Gracie is a digital artist, creating technological systems designed to interact with natural living systems, incorporating ecosystems and biotechnology. At two Arts Catalyst events, Laboratory Life and Republic Of The Moon, Gracie presented his project “Drosophila Titanus”. The project developed an experimental breeding programme for fruit flies. The project aimed to genetically modify the new breed of fruit flies in order for them to survive on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, which is considered to host an environment rather similar to Earth. In order to carry out this experiment, Gracie recreated the atmospheric conditions found on Titan using everyday materials such as vodka, smoke alarms and a bicycle pump.

Supported by

Republic of the Moon is a touring exhibition and programme curated by Arts Catalyst and FACT. It has been made possible with Grants for the Arts support from Arts Council England.

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. Pollinaria, Italy

FACT, AV Festival 2012, Arts Council England