Sam Leach: Mercury - Art Collector

Sam Leach, EV Helmet with Egret Crest, 2018. Oil on linen, 101 x 76cm. Courtesy of the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney and Singapore.

The Russian Cosmists believed in immortality and resurrection for all humanity. The ideas of Russian Cosmism, most famously formulated by Nikolai Fedorov in the late 19th century included plans for technological development, including space travel, to achieve this goal of immortality. In the early 20th century Fedorov’s student, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, developed the mathematical equations and preliminary designs that were developed and applied to achieve the first human trips to space.

As the editorial of E-flux issue 88 pointed out, the humanist concern of Cosmism marks it as one of the threads of the enlightenment. A thread which was cut short by Stalin’s purges. Since we now see a new era of space exploration in which private interests are funding and building the technology, it is timely to consider the origins of the project of space exploration. The aesthetics of the technology are determined largely, but not entirely, by function. It is this aspect of aesthetic choice in the design that interests me. I speculate that there is a connection between the legacy of the enlightenment found in the philosophy of the Russian Cosmists and the distinctive styles of spacesuits, helmets and associated technology. I want to draw a line connecting the constructed landscapes of the 17th and 18th century, the utopian ideals of 20th century formalist abstraction and the future implied by space exploration.

Exhibition Opens: 3pm-5pm, Saturday 10 March, 2018
Exhibition Closes: 31 March 2018
Location: 799 Elizabeth Street, Zetland, Sydney NSW, Australia
Contact: +61 2 9698 4696
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