Swedish artist Mikael Genberg has a vision—a very small, very expensive shack on the surface of the moon. The sculpture (a building you can’t use is just a sculpture) would be in the style of a Swedish country cottage, famous for their striking “falun red” paint jobs. It would be part of Genberg’s larger canon of work, which includes a similar cottage 13 meters up a tree and another, three meters below the surface of a lake. Both of those cottages can actually be visited.
The Moon House however, is not only totally unreachable, it’s completely dependent on crowd-sourcing for its pricey construction. Of the $15,360,000 he needs, Genberg has received $1,816, and he only has 185 days left to raise the cash. For the record, I’m generally in favor of large, ambitious, and yes, sometimes totally expensive, public art. Here’s the thing—this is not public art, and its very nature runs completely counterintuitive to Genberg’s manifesto.
From the Moon House website:
It all began nearly 15 years ago when the artist Mikael Genberg heard about the Swedish space industry plans to build a satellite that would orbit the moon. Four years and one phone call later, had the impossible idea become a reality. The first art project on the moon - a red house with white trim that evokes life in the barren dead moonscape had begun their journey.
The financial crisis affected many. An art project on the moon was no exception. But a new tomorrow dawns in and with the digital revolution and the breakthrough of crowd-funding. Thanks to Falun Red, which in 2014 celebrates its mark on the Swedish province for 250 years, made possible now one of the world’s most ambitious crowd-funding initiative. For the first time in history it is not only the states that make it to the moon. Moon House goal - to put a red house with white trim on the moon - is possible only if the people in the world do it together.
Månhuset is so much more than the first art project on the Moon. Månhuset want to inspire people to break their mental limits and change the face of what is possible. A democratic project in space, where everyone is welcome to participate in creating a unique symbol of what humans can achieve together. Månhuset make space more accessible to all in order to bring space closer to people and people closer to space.
No, space, much less the fucking moon, will not be made more accessible by this project. (Seeing to our woefully underfunded space program would certainly help, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.)
More importantly though, the point of public art is that it can be experienced in some way by the public, so that even if you hate it, it gives the community a collective sense of aesthetic identity—i.e. you can talk with complete strangers about how much you hate it, because you feel some ownership or connection to the work. So no, I will not be donating to Moon House. I would literally rather watch a video of some one setting $15 million on fire—the comment section of YouTube may not be the most sophisticated of communities, but at least that would actually be public.
In the video pitch below, Genberg coos, “everything is possible, as long as we set our minds to it.” While I admire his optimism and don’t doubt the scientific viability of such a project, the question for me is not one of possibility, but one of public worth.