MIR - Art in Variable Gravity

Celestial Globe in foreground, projection of a spacecraft in the background.
Stefan Gec, MIR, Celestial Vault, 2003

Exhibition of work from experiments in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre, Star City, Russia

"The human race will not stay on Earth for ever, but in pursuit of light and space, will first tentatively break out of the Earth's atmosphere and will then conquer the entire solar system", Konstantin Tsyolkovsky (1857-1935)

When Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in 1961, he became a hero of the Soviet nation. After his historic flight, he reported that weightlessness was no problem. Despite Gagarin's optimism, however, zero gravity presents an immense problem for long-term human space travel and habitation, due to its harmful effects on the body. Until now, scientists have been the primary researchers in this field, and the aesthetic and creative possibilities of zero gravity have barely been explored due to the exclusiveness of the environment.

The works in the MIR exhibition emerged from the MIR campaigns, organised by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR consortium, which have enabled artists to undertake projects in zero gravity at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme. Also, for the first time, artist Stefan Gec was allowed access to the giant centrifuge in Star City to create a new work.



MIR DJ Event - Fri 7 November 2003
Featuring sets by Kodwo Eshun and Ewen Chardronnet on the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. The day remains an official holiday in Russia.

Unknown Territories - Sat 8 November 2003
Panel discussion chaired by Marko Peljhan (Slovenia), artist and founder of the Makrolab project, Venice Biennale 2003, documenta X. Including presentations by Arts Catalyst director Nicola Triscott and curator Rob La Frenais. Also featuring: Ewen Chardronnet (France); Stefan Gec (UK) and Yuri Leiderman (Russia).

Artist In Residence: Ewen Chardronnet
8 November - 29 November 2003
Ewen Chardronnet (Fr), media artist, researcher and writer, was in residence at Cornerhouse, initiating project and research work involving gallery visitors, communities, and other artist networks.



MIR was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and the MIR Consortium, a group of international organisations including Arts Catalyst, Projekt Atol (Slo), V2_Institute for the Unstable Media (NI), Transmediale (D), Leonardo/OLATS (Fr/Us), SpaceArtONe (FR), MoM (Sp) and the Multimedia Complex for Actual Art

Funded by the European Commission Culture 2000 Awards and Arts Council England



The Otolith Group was founded in 2002 and consists of London based Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. The Group have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials to explore the moving image, the archive, the sonic and the aural within the gallery context. The research based work has focused on the essay film as a form that seeks to look at conditions, events and histories in their most expanded form. This work acts as a resource that is documented on The Group’s website and supports The Otolith Group's public platform – The Otolith Collective.
The Otolith Collective coexists by curating, programming, publishing and supporting the presentation of artists work, contributing to a critical field of exploration between visual culture and exhibiting in contemporary art. Curated and co-curated programmes and exhibitions include, A Cinema of Songs and People: The Films of Anand Patwardhan at the Tate Modern, The Inner Time of Television, The Journey, by Peter Watkins at the Tate Modern, On Vanishing Land by Mark Fisher and Justin Barton, the touring exhibition The Ghosts of Songs: A Retrospective of The Black Audio Film Collective 1982-1998, Harun Farocki. 22 Films: 1968-2009 at Tate Modern and the touring programme Protest conceived as part of the Essentials: The Secret Masterpieces of Cinema commissioned by the Independent Cinema Office.

Yuri Leiderman is an artist and writer from Odessa, Ukraine and graduated from the Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology in 1987. Leiderman now lives and works in Berlin. In 2003, Yuri Leiderman was part of The Arts Catalyst's event “MIR – Art in Variable Gravity”, held at The Cornerhouse in Manchester. Leiderman was part of the panel discussion “Unknown Territories” which confronted concepts and ideas about space exploration. Yuri was also part of the “MIR Campaign 2003” in Star City, Russia where he demonstrated his project on Kefir grains. The artist grew Kefir grains, “trained” them and then selected the most “healthy” samples to set off on a zero-gravity space flight. This project was filmed and entitled “Kefir Grains Are Going Onto The Flight”. This film was included in the 2005 film “Gravitation Off” and was screened at the “MIR – Dreams of Space” event. Yuri's project was also documented in the “Zero-Gravity: A Cultural Users Guide” publication.