< Exhibitions
The Earth seen from the Moon
Maarten Vanden Eynde
Jan 29, 2010 - Mar 6, 2010

In the wunderkammer, Maarten VANDEN EYNDE (b. 1977) shows The Earth seen from the Moon (2005), which combines two seemingly disparate elements: a military helmet and a telescope.

On the blue helmet of a UN soldier, Vanden Eynde has listed the names of the seas and craters identified on the visible surface of the Moon with an indelible marker. Through this work, the artist opens up various reflections on the fields of science, politics and ecology.

The history of the Moon is obviously linked to that of our planet since the most accepted theory of its creation is that of a planetary impact; the Earth would have been hit tangentially more than 4 billion years ago by an asteroid the size of Mars, throwing fragments of the asteroid and of the Earth into space. This debris would have gradually agglomerated, forming the Moon. The craters visible on the Moon have been called "lunar seas" and have been given Latin names with symbolic connotations or the names of ancient philosophers, scientists and also astronauts (the three Americans of Apollo 11 each have "their" crater).

The formal analogy between the helmet and a planet is quite clear. However, it is true that the helmet is half-spherical, but this should be compared with the fact that the Moon is only visible to Earthlings as a single face (due to the coincidence of revolution and rotation).

By transferring the names of the lunar spaces onto an object that is supposed to protect the human head during dangerous missions, Vanden Eynde emphasises that this helmet is dented and was therefore worn by a soldier (presumably on a peacekeeping mission somewhere on Earth), but also that it is a symbol of protection (of the head and, beyond that, of
peace between nations). Coming from all nations, the soldiers who wear this helmet are empowered to come to the aid of all populations. This solidarity can be applied metaphorically to the unbreakable bond between the Earth and its satellite.

The blue helmet also represents the political efforts to administer the world in a peaceful manner without ever succeeding. The names given by the Committee responsible for the terminology of the planetary system metaphorically illustrate this desire to achieve a result and their impossibility to do so: Mare Tranquillitatis, Mare Serenitatis but also Mare Crisium, Lacus Mortis (Lake of Death), Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms)...

Ultimately, this work makes us realise that in order to protect our cranium/planet, we should perhaps pay more attention to what is going on around us. The single viewpoint allows little understanding. The telescope is pointed at the helmet but doesn't really 'see' anything. While also a tribute to the great astronomers who have enabled mankind to advance in the understanding of the universe, the use of this instrument to observe distant objects is also a metaphorical way of referring to the difficulty of dealing with the world.

In this respect, the work is reminiscent of a passage from Bertolt Brecht's Life of Galileo (Leben des Galilei): 'The movements of the heavenly bodies have become more predictable; but still incalculable to the people are the movements of their rulers'.