Curators Rebecca Najdowski and Dr Colleen Boyle
To the Moon and Back celebrates the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Within the heritage-listed Ballarat Municipal Observatory and Museum, a diverse group of international artists bring their individual voices to a contemporary exploration of the continuing relevance of the historic 1969 lunar landing and its lasting photographic legacy.
Even with today’s developing technology, photography, in all its variants, continues to provide audiences with insights into our only natural satellite. Featuring Andrew Curtis (Aus), Vincent Fournier (France), Sharon Harper (USA), Sasha Huber (Switzerland), Penelope Umbrico (USA), Qicong Lin (China), Matt Lipps (USA) and Jorge Mañes Rubio (Spain).
Andrew Curtis, working in a surrealist mode, creates a world of his own invention, making the everyday unfamiliar, removing the distinction between imagination and reality. These transformations are achieved largely through lighting, and over several years Curtis has developed a distinctive approach. Using various sizes of handheld torch (he once used a kangaroo shooter’s light!) and battery strobes, he is able to pick out details freely, moving the lamp during exposure. Working in darkness he has the photographic equivalent of a blank canvas, though in charcoal black, with his lamps painting in the lighter tones. The result has no equivalent in nature, the eerie artificial glow like something from a dream, or a film. It is all artifice.
Vincent Fournier is a French artist photographer?exploring significant utopian and futuristic stories.? His images play with oppositions between documentary and fiction, past and future, science and magic, intimacy and universality, logic and the absurd. Having grown up with the idea of “the end of history” and living in the eternal present, he uses images to question our past and future utopias. Fournier’s works are in the permanent collections of institutions including the Centre Pompidou, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Dragonfly Collection. He spent several years as a creative director and photographer in the advertising and film industries, before going on a trip around the world in 2004 and producing his first series, Tour Operator. Switching from a documentary style to staged images,?he now explores futuristic fiction and discovers in our present, or in the past, glimpses of the future.
Sharon Harper’s work explores technology and perception. Her experimental work uses photography and video to create poetic connections between ourselves and the environment. Harper’s work is in permanent collections at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Public Library. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Meredith S Moody Residency Fellowship and an Elizabeth Ames Residency Fellowship at Yaddo, a Sam and Dusty Boynton Residency Fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, and residency fellowships at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Monastery of Halsnøy, Norway and the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Kentucky. A monograph of her work, From Above and Below, was published by Radius Books in 2013. Her work is represented by Rick Wester Fine Art, New York. She is a Professor of Visual Art in Harvard University’s Art, Film and Visual Media Department.
Sasha Huber is a visual artist of Swiss-Haitian heritage, born in Zurich in 1975. She has lived and worked in Helsinki since 2002. Huber’s work is primarily concerned with the politics of memory and belonging, particularly in relation to colonial residue left in different landscapes. Her practice encompasses video, photography, collaborations with researchers and performance-based interventions. Although Huber works primarily in lens-based formats, she has also claimed the compressed-air staple gun, aware of its symbolic significance as a weapon, while offering the potential to renegotiate unequal power dynamics. She is known for her artistic research contribution to the Demounting Louis Agassiz campaign, aiming at dismantling the glaciologist’s lesser-known but contentious racist heritage. Huber has participated in numerous international exhibitions, and is currently undertaking practice-based PhD studies at the Department of Art and Media at the Zurich University of the Arts. She also works in creative partnership with artist Petri Saarikko.
Penelope Umbrico’s installations, video and digital media works utilise photo-sharing and consumer-to-consumer websites as an expansive archive to explore the production and consumption of images. Her work navigates between producer and consumer, local and global, the individual and the collective, with attention to the technologies that are produced by (and produce) these forces. Umbrico’s work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, NY; Museum of Modern Art, NY; MassMoCA, MA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Milwaukee Art Museum, WI; Art Museum Gosta, Finland; Foto Colectania, Barcelona, Spain; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Daegu Photography Biennale, Korea; Pingyao International Photography Festival, China; Kunstverein Ludwigshafen, Germany; Rencontres d’Arles, France; Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; among many others.?She has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, Sharpe-Walentas Studio Grant, Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship and the Anonymous Was a Woman Award. Her monographs have been published by Aperture NYC and RVB Books Paris.
Qicong Lin is a Chinese artist working with photographic media. His practice and research interests focus on the human perception of the cosmos, the myths of the landscape and the sheer absurdity in daily life.
For over 10 years, Matt Lipps has critically examined photographs from both high and low sources to reveal how these images have reflected and shaped our culture. His process involves a systematic yet flexible set of rules that reinvent context and meaning through collage strategies, sculptural tropes and theatre staging techniques. Lipps received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine in 2004. His works can be found in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, the Saatchi Gallery and the Pilara Foundation Collection/Pier 24. He lives and works in Los Angeles.
Jorge Mañes Rubio
Jorge Mañes Rubio is a sort of sociohistorical alchemist. When he travels, he absorbs what he sees and hears, and uses it as raw material to reimagine what could be instead. He graduated in Design Products from the Royal College of Art London in 2010, where he confirmed his indefatigable desire to travel beyond the usual scopes of design. In 2015 he was awarded the S&R Foundation Washington Award, and in 2018 the prestigious TED Senior Fellowship. Rubio is a member of the Advanced Concepts Team at the European Space Agency. His work is exhibited in galleries, museums and art centres worldwide, including the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul), V&A (London), Royal Academy of Arts (London), Design Museum (London), Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts (Lausanne), Het Nieuwe Instituut (Rotterdam) and Power Station of Art (Shanghai).