Since the space race kicked off in the 1950s, generations of creatives have been fascinated by otherworldly exploration. Showcasing the output of this widespread curiosity, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will unveil Far Out: Suits, Habs, and Labs for Outer Space on July 20, the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing. Through works that depict life in outer space alongside built environments and objects that were designed to protect humans off-Earth, the exhibition connects the seemingly disparate efforts of scientists, artists, and designers to imagine and plan human spaceflight.
“Rick Guidice’s Toroidal Colonies painting is one of the few artist-driven projects supported by a government agency,” says Joseph Becker, SFMoMA’s associate curator of architecture and design, of one work funded as part of a 1970s NASA initiative. Another piece, Neri Oxman’s Wanderers, depicts a future in which computationally grown apparatuses augment bodily functions such as digestion to help humans survive in hostile environments. Included among the functional objects is Tom Sachs’s space suit, a manifestation of his own desire to reach outer space; read as sculpture, such items become thought-provoking works of art. “Maybe this [exhibition] will cause viewers to question our human purpose in colonizing another planet,” Becker says, “and out of it will come renewed enlightenment.”