In conjunction with SFMOMA’s current architecture and design exhibition, Far Out: Suits, Habs, and Labs for Outer Space (a mixture of actual space-related paraphernalia and artistically imagined possibilities), the museum hosts a free public conversation between astronaut Dr. Yvonne Darlene Cagle and Far Out artist Tavares Strachan.
Regular readers may recognize Cagle’s name from her star turn (pun intended) in Nicole Miller’s video installation To the Stars, currently playing to visiting school groups in the museum’s Phyllis Wattis Theater—in which she speaks poetically, beautifully about the changes a body undergoes in zero gravity. Strachan’s work, much of it engaged with the possibilities of going to space himself, will also be included in the much-anticipated contemporary exhibition SOFT POWER opening Oct. 26.
Eva Díaz moderates this discussion about space travel, extreme environments and making invisible things visible. And while neither speaker has actually been to space, both have prepared to go there. Strachan trained at the Yuri Gagarian Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia as part of the long term art project Orthostatic Tolerance; he also founded the Bahamas Air and Space Exploration Center, “Nassau’s answer to NASA.”
Fifty years after the first moon landing, space flight is now a reality—if only for the astronomically wealthy. But we’re all in training for an otherworldly future: “extreme environments” describes not just the vacuum of space, but increasingly, life on Earth. In light of recent and ongoing climate actions, and the desperate pleas of our youngest generations to join forces and effect real change, looking to the unifying lessons of sustaining life among the stars may actually address some of our most pressing earthbound problems. —Sarah Hotchkiss