30 November 2011

Our next exhibition  Republic of the Moon  which opens on 16 December featured seven international artists and their visions for lunar life.  One of these artists Agnes Meyer-Brandis has breed eleven Moon Geese that have undertaken strict astronaut training in order to fly to the Moon. They are currently living in their Moon Goose Colony in Italy and we will be able to interact with them from FACT's gallery spaces! We caught up with the Mother Goose to find out more...

Why did you choose to work with geese for this project?

When I was preparing for one of my earlier works, an artistic experiment in weightlessness, which took place on board a German Aerospace Center research plane in 2007, I came across Francis Godwin and his book Man in the Moone. Written in 1958, the main character flies to the Moon with the help of moon geese, a very special kind of bird who migrate annually from the Earth to the Moon.

My first Moon Goose experiment took place in Siberia where I was able to observe and investigate them and in particular their migration behavior. This bio-poetic experiment took place during the total solar eclipse in Novosibirsk as part of one of Caspula's Curated Expedition projects. From this experiment arose many questions and since then I have been investigating and observing Moon Geese.

What is a day in the life of a Moon Goose?

A Moon Goose day is a timespan full of activities, between dandelion paradise, astronaut training, preparing experiments, taking care of their feathers and wings, staying in good condition to be able to take off and mainly being lazy.

You've raised the Moon Geese from eggs, how does it feel to play the part of a mother goose?

I've never had such an intense and intimate relationship with an animal before. When they were very little, I almost could not run to the restroom without them screaming for me! When I placed my arms in their habitat, they all crawled under and nestled against me, like they do with a real mother goose. It was like my arms had become wings! I've since spent nearly 24 hours of the day together with them until they grew up and became more and more independent.

I am not sure who was imprinting who… I was hoping to stay human and was not so keen on becoming a goose. My role as an astronaut trainer kept me focused and not falling hopeless into the "piep piep" language of the geese which sometimes really got on my nerves, but that's OK!

You have obviously spent a lot of time with the colony, what has been your favourite part?

It's hard to say - the project has had so many very intense and unique moments - it is living, it is a process. I was very proud of the geese when we did a first public spacewalk, they took on all the challenges that astronaut training can bring with bravery, strength and respect. I will never forget the moment of when I first when bathing in a lake with them. This was a magic moment, and one of several.

We are excited to have a new commission of the piece in FACT. What should we expect?

Moon Geese are real living animals and communicating with them over such a long distance is a quite experimental situation. You may have good luck and will see a Moon Goose inspecting a crater, or conducting the dandelion experiment. The geese might send you some results and signals, or you might just see grey noise or an empty moon landscape. This part of the exhibition I can't control.

Finally, what would your Republic of the Moon look like?

It would be full of goose s**t and feathers, craters and lots of hidden water. You know Moon Geese are waterfowls, so they need to have their head under water at least once a day. Anyway, my Republic of the Moon would be full of hidden life, the Moon Goose Colony is a huge subterranean colony. The habitat we can see is just the tip of the iceberg.