A high-profile Swiss curator will organise the first exhibition on another planet, thanks to Elon Musk and his SpaceX aerospace company. Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, has been planning a colony on Mars and will be using an art exhibition to help promote the new venture. “The exhibition will be the avant-garde expression of our great civilisation,” he says.
The move was initially proposed by a well-known Swiss curator, who leads one of London's leading galleries and has organised major contemporary exhibitions all around the world. “I have jetted to every corner of this planet to help artists realise their ideas. And now I think it is crucially important for us to realise one of humanity’s greatest collective achievements—a group exhibition—on another planet.” The curator’s name is being kept under wraps in case he is poached by a rival in the new space race—“I don’t want Bezos or Branson, those two egomaniacs, taking my guy,” Musk says.
The curator’s name is being kept under wraps in case he is poached by a rival in the new space race—“I don’t want Bezos or Branson, those two egomaniacs, taking my guy,” Musk says.
The idea came to the curator, who is renowned for his energy, positivity and ubiquity, after news of another space art project. “I saw that Jeff [Koons] was sending works to the moon, and I thought ‘but you cannot just put an artwork out there [somewhere] and that be enough, you need a curator to make it live and breathe’,” he says. “So I sent Elon a message—written on a post-it note, of course—and he loved it!”
Musk is said to have been unsure about the idea at first but a few days after being approached, while cruising around San Francisco in a Tesla driverless car gazing out of the window, the idea suddenly made complete sense to him. Musk explains: “Mars is pretty inhospitable, right? And what do we usually do with inhospitable places on earth? We send artists in to gentrify them and make them nice for the rest of us.”
The curator visited Musk at his SpaceX base in Hawthorne, California, last month and the two have begun working on details of the show, provisionally called Space Oddity: A Brill Fuels. The space rocket carrying all the works of art is due to arrive on Mars in spring 2035. The full list of participating artists has yet to be announced but it is understood that works by Jeff Koons will be included and will be picked up en route, when the SpaceX shuttle docks on the moon to recharge its batteries.
Sources close to the curator say that ever since his return from California, he has taken to wearing a Buzz Lightyear t-shirt around the gallery’s offices and shouting “to infinity and beyond!” any time someone asks him innocently where he is going.