A three-part solo exhibition
by Marcus Neustetter
at the The Mixed Reality Workshop.
In February 2022 Marcus Neustetter will be sending a letter in the form of an artwork to the International Space Station (ISS) with the Moon Gallery, with another being sent to the Moon in 2024. The letter is addressed to the Sumbandila Satellite as a gesture of hope to connect to this defunct lonely orbiting ambassador. As the name Sumbandila means “lead the way” in Venda language, the letter asks her to Lead The Way Again. With this inclusion, the artist looks back at a decade of work that attempts to connect to a lost collaborator Sumbandila Satellite. This act is his chance to get closer than ever to the orbiting space object, he is posting a letter to the satellite as his latest endeavour to take up communication.
For the artist the call into the distant unknown is a hopeful contemplation and conjecture for new meanings and new prospects in response to the complex conditions on earth.
SumbandilaSat (formerly ZASAT-002, AMSAT designation SO-67), is a South African micro earth observation satellite, launched on 17 September 2009 on a Soyuz-2 launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. In June 2011 the satellite was damaged during a solar storm. The damage caused the onboard computer and the camera to stop functioning which negated its primary objective leading to it being written off as a loss by SunSpace, its builder.
Before the solar storm, Neustetter was receiving images and creating artworks from Sumbandila’s vantage point. But since the damage, he has only been able to track the satellite, but not communicate with it nor receive its images prompting the artist to actively speculate, search and imagine. This has resulted in drawings, videos, performative dialogues, responsive robots, planetarium shows, installations and sound pieces for the past decade – attempts to both reach out and to visualise what Sumbandila’s perspective and encounters might be. These have manifested in large-scale installations such as Lead the Way at the ZKM in Karlsruhe (Germany) with interactive robots that track Sumbandila and send her morse-code light signals, in Dakar (Senegal) as a form of durational performance with local collaborators looking at speculative landscapes’ possibilities experienced by the satellite, and in Bloemfontein (South Africa) as a series of planetarium performances and films. Other forms have been single microscope drawings, digital print series and a dedicated stamp sheet commissioned by the South African Postal Service.
The first part, Seeking Dialogue with a Satellite (2010 – 2021), in the Atrium, presents a selection of drawings and digital print artworks from the last decade. The second, Lead The Way Again (2021) is an installation presented in the TMRW space. This brings together some of the performances, objects and collected bi-products of this journey over the last ten years and a version of the letter artwork being sent to the ISS and the Moon, into an immersive experience for the audience. The third part, is a version of the letter-artwork destined for space is also on auction with Aspire to raise support for the mission with the Moon Gallery.
Lead The Way Again
A solo exhibition and installation
6 November – 22 January 2022
Opening: 6 November 2021, 12pm – 2pm, with performances by Thulisile Princess Binda and Xolisile Bongwana.
Seeking Dialogue with a Satellite
A decade of drawings in conversation with SumbandilaSat
The Atrium, Keyes Building with TMRW
29 October – 22 January 2022
Lead The Way Again
A letter-artwork series destined for the ISS (2022) and the Moon (2024)
in partnership with the Moon Gallery and auctioned by Aspire
30 November 2021
With special thanks to:
Thulisile Princess Binda
Xolisile Bongwana
Ciara Struwig
Paul Setate
Tammy Palesa Stewart
Mark Edwards and Christian Ihrybauer (films)
Imaginary Futures Project
The Zone Project
The Trinity Session
The Moon Gallery
PDF Exhibition overview (5MB)