Down to Earth
Down to Earth critically unpacks the project of space mining through the perspective of resources. With the space of the Pavilion itself turned into a lunar laboratory, a stage where the performance of extraction takes place, Down to Earth focuses on the unveiling of the backstages of the space mining project, offering another way of seeing the Moon that goes beyond the current optics of the Anthropocene.
From the development of human settlements on the Moon to the asteroid mining of rare mineral and metals—the wild imaginaries of extraction-driven growth have, quite literally, transcended the boundaries of the Earth.
This displacement of resource exploitation from the exhausted Earth to its ‘invisible’ backstages—celestial bodies, planets, and ultimately, the Moon itself—calls for an urgent debate on the impact this shift will have on our understanding of land, resources and the commons. Down to Earth critically unpacks the project of space mining through the perspective of resources. It starts from the following questions: How does this new iteration of the space race, wrapped in the false promises of endlessly available resources, depart from the existing extractivist logic of capitalism and its destructive environmental and social effects on the ground? How will the ongoing privatisation of space, characterised by a sharp turn towards private companies as main actors in the exploitation of space resources, affect the current status of extraterrestrial bodies as a form of ‘planetary commons’? What are the materialities of space mining—its logistics, technologies, infrastructures and workers—and their relationship to the existing geopolitical power hierarchies? And finally, how are architects to mediate critically the ramifications of these material fictions, rooted in the existing paradigms of growth?
Designed as mock-ups of the Moon’s landscapes, ‘lunar laboratories’ have emerged in recent years as a default feature that many institutions and private companies around the world use as infrastructure for testing different mining technologies. However, within the context of speculative economies of the space mining industry, the role of the lunar laboratories seems to go beyond being merely spaces meant for carrying out scientific experiments, instead appearing also as media studios for the production of imagery of human technologies on the Moon. The exhibition Down to Earth uses the lunar laboratory as a site for unpacking the tech industry’s space exploration narratives. With the space of the Pavilion itself turned into a lunar laboratory, a stage where the performance of extraction takes place, Down to Earth focuses on the unveiling of the backstages of the space mining project, offering another way of seeing the Moon that goes beyond the current optics of the Anthropocene.
Commissioners appointed by the Luxembourg Ministry of Culture:
Kultur l lx – Arts Council Luxembourg
luca – Luxembourg Center for Architecture
Francelle Cane and Marija Marić
Francelle Cane and Marija Marić in collaboration with Armin Linke and Lev Bratishenko
Jane Mah Hutton
Marc Angélil (ETH, Zurich)
Giovanna Borasi (CCA, Montréal)
Olaf Grawert (ETH Zurich/b+ Berlin)
Florian Hertweck (University of Luxembourg)
Nikolaus Hirsch (CIVA, Brussels)
Charlotte Malterre-Barthes (EPFL, Lausanne)
Markus Miessen (University of Luxembourg)
Dubravka Sekulić (RCA, London)
Bettina Steinbrügge (MUDAM, Luxembourg)
Œuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte
LuXembourg - Let’s make it happen
Master in Architecture, University of Luxembourg
Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA)
Luxembourg Embassy in Berlin
Luxembourg Embassy in Paris
Luxembourg Embassy in Rome