Down to Earth
18th Venice Architecture Biennale
Exhibition May 20 – November 26, 2023
Luxembourg Pavilion, Sale d’Armi, Arsenale, Venice (Italy)
Two researchers of the Master in Architecture programme and the Department of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Luxembourg, Francelle Cane and Marija Maric, are representing Luxembourg at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale with their project titled “Down to Earth”. The project critically unpacks space mining through the perspective of resources.
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 uses a 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.
The exhibition features three different projects developed throughout the course of the research – a film, a workshop, and a publication.
Titled Cosmic Market, the film by Armin Linke, developed in collaboration with the curators of the Pavilion, exposes connections between scientific research and differing interpretations of space legislation, as well as between technological development and the establishment of a new market, both on Earth and beyond.
A collaboration between the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) and the Luxembourg Pavilion, the workshop “how to: mind the moon” started from the research on five lunar materials, outlining another kind of material library, that goes beyond the perceived scientific neutrality of materials science. The workshop, co-curated with Lev Bratishenko, features contributions by: Jane Mah Hutton, Anastasia Kubrak, Amelyn Ng, Bethany Rigby, and Fred Scharmen.
Published by Spector Books and designed by OK-RM, the publication “Staging the Moon: Resource Extraction Beyond Earth” collects essays and fragments of research on questions of resources, legal framing of lunar soil and commons, as well as the infrastructural power of the New Space Age media in legitimizing mineral extraction.