Format 1: 132 x 202 cm / 52 x 79.5 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 67 x 102 cm / 26.3 x 40.2 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

“heterotopia” shows an Ariane 5 rocket on the launch pad shortly before blasting off into space. The Guiana Space Centre (CSG) is the European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. Operational since 1968, it is in an optimal location that fulfills the two major geographical requirements for such a site: closeness to the Equator, so that the spinning Earth can impart some extra free velocity to eastward launched rockets, and uninhabited territory – the spaceport is surrounded by the Amazonian forest – so that lower stages of rockets and debris from launch failures cannot fall on human habitations. This high-tech facility in the middle of a primeval forest not only creates a stirringly surrealistic setting, but also serves as a metaphor for the strong and vital relationship between space exploration and planet Earth itself. Many of the Earth observation satellites launched from CSG are helping humanity gain a better understanding of how highly vulnerable our planet is and how severely it is threatened by climate change.

The artwork “heterotopia” is a digital re-composition based on pictures taken during a helicopter flight prior to launch. It focuses on the idea that we need to extend our existential framework of reference from one that is purely Earth-bound to one that includes Earth orbits and outer space in general. The term “heterotopia” was elaborated by the French philosopher Michel Foucault to describe spaces that have more layers of meaning; layers that are not immediately visible and that are capable of juxtaposing several spaces not usually meant to be in a relationship. Foucault uses the idea of a mirror as a metaphor for duality and contradiction, for the reality and unreality of such spaces that are neither here nor there. The Guiana Space Centre can be viewed as one such heterotopian place. But the artwork also invokes the heterotopian space between the Earth’s surface and orbits, which will become increasingly relevant and more densely populated in the near future.


Personally liable:
Michael Najjar

Design concept & coding: Matthias Hübner, possible.is
with support by Marco Land

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