MIR - Dreams of Space

A woman sleeping whilst floating.
Otolith Group & Richard Couzins, MIR, Otolith1, 2003
Celestial Globe in foreground, projection of a spacecraft in the background.
Stefan Gec, MIR, Celestial Vault, 2007.

New photographic, installation and video works by British and Russian artists reflecting the enduring legacy of the Russian quest for space.

The works were created in Star City, heart of the Russian space programme, accessng the museums and archives there, as well as zero gravity flights and the giant centrifuge used for cosmonaut training . 50 years after the launch of Sputnik, and at the start of a new millennium, with new aspirations to build the International Space Station and to reach Mars, it is timely that artists are reclaiming these territories, in a contemporary and very direct sense.

Using the TsF-18 centrifuge in Star City, Gec recorded the G-force exerted by the centrifuge on a celestial globe. His resulting installation Celestial Vault prompts a re-examination of our age old fascination with the celestial sky. The Otolith Group (Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar.) with Richard Couzins' film Otolith opens up forgotten histories of the Space Age, uncovering a legacy of female exploration. Carey Young's exquisite photographic series Legacy Systems illustrate the remnants of the nuclear fuelled space-race, and the lingering hero worship of Gagarin .

Vadim Fishkin's installation Kapelgraf Zero-G translates time-based data into drops of water, beautifully demonstrating the effects of Earth gravity and zero gravity on the droplets. In Yuri Leiderman's film Kefir Grains Are Going Onto The Flight records his breeding, selection and release of Kefir grains into zero gravity: a metaphor for Russian Cosmism's grandeur and disaster.

Evgeni Nesterov's photographic series documents Star City and the artists' journey there.

Accompanying the exhibition in the Resource Room, the MIR programme of documentary and artists films:
Gravitation Off! The Arts Catalyst
Centrifuge Ewen Chardronnet
The Briefing Ewen Chardronnet
Neutral Buoyancy Ewen Chardronnet
Too G Andrew Kotting
Zero Genie Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer
Daedalo Marcelli Antunez Roca
Zero Mike Stubbs
Universal Substitute, Andrei & Julia Velikanov

Everything Normal, the equipment is working perfectly

Thursday 07 April 2005

As part of the MIR - Dreams of Space season, Stills and The Arts Catalyst presented a special screening event recalling the early days of the space race. Introduced by Rob La Frenais, curator of MIR and The Arts Catalyst, the programme opens with Attention Weightlessness, a Russian educational film, and continues with films by Acoustic Space Lab, Andrei Ujica, The Priviet Mission, Louise K Wilson, Andrew Kotting and Ansuman Biswas & Jem Finer


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



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.

Carey Young is a visual artist and teacher who incorporates a variety of media such as video, photography, performative events and installation into her art works, which investigate the increasing incorporation of the personal and public domains into the realm of the commercial world. Young's projects often center on notions of language, training and performance, and take an ambiguous political stance in order to create a web of complex questions for the viewer. Carey Young is a lecturer in fine art at Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, London.

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.
Kodwo Eshun is a writer, theorist, filmmaker and co-founder of The Otolith Group with Anjalika Sagar, 2002. Their practice includes curating, publishing and production of artists work. Their research into aural and visual cultures is informed by the legacy and potential of the moving image and the archive. In 2012 The Otolith Group made the film ‘The Radiant’ exploring the aftermath of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and the partial meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.