After the series Atmospheres (there is something existential in these images that I cannot name) exhibited in 2015 in Galería NAC, Nicolás Sánchez continues to look at the sky in this new work based on archive images from NASA’s Apollo program, whose objective was to take man to the moon.
For centuries, mankind has been fascinated by the very idea of space travel. Long before engineers and scientists seriously considered the possibility of outer space travel, art and literature were already inflamed with fantasies outside the Earth’s atmosphere. And the moon, our closest astronomical neighbor - only 3 days away by spacecraft - and visible to the naked eye, has been one of the main scenarios of these attempts by science fiction to placate with images the terror of the future, of the great void.
Only 12 men have stepped on the Moon in 6 successful NASA and Apollo missions. Neil Armstrong was the first to touch the surface as he descended from the lunar module on July 20, 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission. The last to walk on the moon was Eugene Cernan on December 14, 1972 on the Apollo 17 mission. These 12 men have been the only ones to set foot on an astronomical object other than Earth. And they did so by carrying cameras attached to their space suits with which they recorded their lunar walks in search of explanations.
The images of this exhibition were created from these originals, preserved in the public archives of NASA’s Apollo program. In a process that took 3 years, I made a selection from more than 8,000 images, which were referenced in the lunar atlas and then digitally joined to form a new image of greater amplitude. It is a personal exploration of a historical archive, with a concern for the sublime, for the act of photographing, for the traces of human experience, for the less scientific images.
The exhibition also shows blueprints of original schemes and plans of the lunar module, satellite photographs captured by the LROC (Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera) of the landing sites that show the still visible traces of the trails, and a series of videos of the space race obtained from the same archive. The views of the lunar surface, rocky, fine, dusty, without atmosphere, bathed in a white, silver light and the great silence as a backdrop, seem to puncture us with fundamental questions that shoot out in all directions: the mystery of the cosmic drama, the technical prowess, the astonishment and the human desire to understand, the existential vertigo caused by infinite spaces, - or as Buzz Aldrin described it, perplexed as he came down from the lunar module - the magnificent desolation.
Nicolás Sánchez L.