A digital drawing of outer space by artist Mattia Merlo (via Mattia Merlo’s Flickrstream)

Space travel has historically been controlled by government entities — thus the chance to be an astronaut was limited by their tedious, bureaucratic tendency to recruit people who can, you know, fly aircraft and, like, understand astrophysics. But here in our glorious age of Late Capitalism, we collectively demonstrate that there is no endeavor requiring any greater qualification than being excessively wealthy!

Why is this great news for art weirdos? Because, as reported by The Washington Post, Elon Musk’s private cosmic project SpaceX, announced yesterday that the first paying tourist that his company intends to fly on a trip around the moon is none other than Yusaku Maezawa. Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire entrepreneur, made news last year when he dropped $110.5 million on a painting by US artist Jean-Michel Basquiat at a Sotheby’s auction. Not content to merely pay astronomical prices for artworks, Maezawa now intends to make astronauts of artists, as he announced his intention to diversify his space-entourage with an international group of six to eight sculptors, painters, architects and filmmakers. Maezawa is quoted as saying the trip, slated for 2023, will lead to the production of art “to inspire the dreamer in all of us.”

Concept sketch for The Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon (MOCAM), a collaborative project orchestrated by artist Julio Orta.  (image courtesy of Julio Orta)

First of all, mission accomplished, Maezawa! If you and notably insane rich person Elon Musk successfully get six to eight artists into space, you will have inspired all of us who cut high school science classes so we could get extra darkroom time and smoke behind the gym. WE’RE GOING TO SPACE, SCIENCE NERDS. WE’RE THE ASTRONAUTS NOW.

Secondly, I truly, truly hope you have some actual scientists and pilots on board, or at least robots or something, because seriously, if something goes wrong out there, a poignant mirror held up to the human condition is NOT going to save you.

Thirdly, what does one have to do to score one of these coveted spots on a space flight? While it represents the chance of a lifetime, it also represents the chance of total explodo-failure, am I right? This line-up is not a mere matter of cherry-picking the most obvious blue chips — this will require artists who are intrepid, fearless, and whose egos cannot be satisfied by mere international fame. We are talking interstellar art fame, you lame, Earthbound artists. We are the artstronauts.

In fact, a potentially concerning development is that if one has not been to the Moon, then one cannot really understand the burgeoning Moon Art Movement, and so I think it might be best if Maezawa saves one more seat on space-party bus for a critic. How else can we truly be qualified to evaluate this dreamer-inspiring art? Despite my reservations about ever putting my life in the hands of someone as clearly unhinged as Elon Musk, I will bravely volunteer to take the discipline into the outer stratosphere. Like so many things, it is a sacrifice I’m willing to make for art. But for the record, I am copywriting the word “artstronauts.”©

And if I may offer a final, humble suggestion, it would be that we not squander this singular opportunity to bring Jeff Koons to space. And then, while he is distracted in the formulation of trenchant-but-accessible social commentary, quietly eject him in a pod of some sort and head back to Earth before he notices.

Bon voyage and bon chance, artstronauts!!

Sarah Rose Sharp is a Detroit-based writer, activist, and multimedia artist. She has shown work in New York, Seattle, Columbus and Toledo, OH, and Detroit — including at the Detroit Institute of Arts....

One reply on “Billionaire Art Collector Wants to Take Artists into Space”

Comments are closed.