Tate Liverpool and Modern Art Oxford are proud to jointly present chapters from Aleksandra Mir’s new work Space Tapestry. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and the artists who depicted Halley’s Comet in 1066, it is a large-scale hand-drawn monochrome wall hanging which forms an immersive environment. Much like a graphic novel, Space Tapestry tells an episodic visual story of space travel.
Over the past three years, Mir has formed relationships with professionals in the space industry and academia who have informed and inspired the Space Tapestry. The work draws out themes relating to current debates, recorded events, scientific discoveries, technological innovations and predictions of an imagined future that currently affect all our lives. In total, the finished Space Tapestry, drawn on synthetic canvas with marker pens, will be 200 metres long by 3 metres high. Work started on the tapestry in 2015 and it is estimated that it will take 3000 drawing hours to complete.
Mir has brought together a team of more than 25 collaborators, aged 18–24, to collectively draw the work by hand in her London-based studio following the artist’s design while they also leave personal marks on the work. Commenting on the process Mir said, ‘My objectives are to push drawing beyond the limits of the small-scale, manageable sheet of paper into a larger unruly reality; simultaneously a stage set, a choreographed dance and an improvisational performance act. I have worked on expanding this notion by bringing in other people to explore the potential of our tools, methods and relationship to each other. Working with a collective spirit diversifies the palette and the end result is the richer for it.”
The ambitious and large scale project is presented simultaneously at Tate Liverpool and Modern Art Oxford. Asking questions of and reflecting on the relative distances explored in the work – Jupiter is equally far away from Oxford as it is from Liverpool, for example – audiences are encouraged to visit both institutions to see the different chapters of the tapestry.
From 23rd June – 15th October Tate Liverpool presents Space Tapestry: Faraway Missions. From the unfathomable distances between us and the planets that form our solar system, to our constant quest to find extraterrestrial life, Faraway Missions reflects society’s relationship with space and our insatiable curiosity to find out if we are alone in the universe. The 40 metre tapestry will be combined with 39 smaller drawings depicting a series of probes that have been sent into outer space since the 1950s, exploring parts of the cosmos further away from our reach but closer in our understanding of it. Together, these works invite visitors to consider not only the great discoveries of space exploration, but to see the romance in science and gain perspective on humanity’s significance in the universe and our relationships to one another.
From 24th June – 12th November, Modern Art Oxford presents Space Tapestry: Earth Observation & Human Spaceflight, the latest addition to Space Tapestry. The graphic and textual content of these chapters considers the evolution of advanced technology in relation to our daily lives, while a series of industry marketing slogans aimed at selling the future possibilities of space have been transformed by the young collaborators into visual poems that consider their own futures. The prospect of balancing technological progress with humanistic objectives is explored and expressed through the work’s layered and participatory execution.
As the density and utility of satellites increases and human spaceflight enters the next phase of civilians following trained astronauts into space, the emergent fields of space policy, economics and law, space medicine, space psychology, space sociology and space communication follow and feed into our pop cultural ideas of space. Mir’s drawings at Modern Art Oxford both celebrate and ask questions of their expertise.
Born 1967, Lubin, Poland, citizen of Sweden and U.S.A. and based in London, Aleksandra Mir has an international practice of 25 years and has held numerous exhibitions worldwide, including The Space Age, a retrospective at M-Museum, Leuven, 2013 and the 34m mural Drawing Room, London, 2014. She has developed many large-scale collaborative projects on space exploration. Her most well know project, First Woman on the Moon 1999, has been touring for 17 years and is included in the collections of The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and Tate.
Space Tapestry: Faraway Missions is curated by Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director and Tamar Hemmes, Assistant Curator at Tate Liverpool. Space Tapestry: Earth Observation and Human Spaceflight is curated by Emma Ridgway, Head of Programme, and Dr Stephanie Straine, Curator, Exhibitions & Projects at Modern Art Oxford. Aleksandra Mir: Space Tapestry will be accompanied by a forthcoming publication containing reproductions of the artwork and conversations between the artist and space specialists.