When the Americans stepped foot on the moon for the first time in 1969, they took with them the flag of their nation in a kit called the Lunar Flag Assembly. Six such flag assemblies were then planted on the Moon during the Apollo mission.
Now, almost 50 years on, humankind’s chances of venturing to Mars within the coming decade is looking ever likely. In response to this, Bas van de Poel and Marc Vermeeren have curated the Martian Flag Assembly, an exhibition bringing together seven creatives to conceptualise potential flags to represent Earth on the Red Planet.
Together Bas and Marc form Matter and, after seeing Elon Musk talk at the International Astronautical Congress last year, they decided to curate the exhibition which opens this Friday (15 June) at Space10 in Copenhagen and which will remain open until 22 June. “During his talk, Musk announced that his company SpaceX will send humans to Mars in 2024,” Matter explains, “this made us wonder: what would the Martian flag actually look like?”
Will the flag represent Mars as a planet? Will it represent a nation (even though territorial claims to any extraterrestrial body are prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty)? Will it represent a corporation, conveying a branded gesture of achievement? Or, will this flag unite all nations on Earth, conveying a message of hope and peace? With these questions in mind, matter curated a line up of artists based on their aesthetic and the different themes they explore within their work.
Having initially wanted to choose six artists to represent the six flag assemblies, “we couldn’t help ourselves from inviting one more artist to join the lineup,” Matter recalls. As a result, the final exhibiting artists are Bráulio Amado, Hassan Rahim, Johanna Burai, Timo Lenzen, Jena Myung, Golgotha and Builders Club.
Each contributor was given the dimensions of the flags but what it would look like was completely up to them. The results range from the politically charged work of Johanna Burai to the more hopeful of Timo Lenzen. The flag proposals will be printed by 2.25 × 1.5m and accompanied by an installation of red lasers, haze machine and 120bpm ambient techno. For those unable to make it to the exhibition, Matter worked with Bureau Cool to create an interactive website that brings the flags to life using WebGL.
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Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.