We’re finally paying the Moon a visit after 50 years. Or rather a piece of art is. It’s small, golden, and tells the story of a pair of figures entwined in love.
Later this year in 2022, the couple will live on the surface of the Moon forever, about 384,400 kilometres away from us. The Moon will officially have its first-ever artwork, thanks to a number of space industry organisations and contemporary artist Sacha Jafri.
Prior to its flight, the artwork titled ‘We Rise Together with the Light of the Moon’ was revealed to the world for the first time on Wednesday at the USA Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai. The press conference also marked the first time NASA (National Aeronatuics and Space Agency) is partnering with private companies Spacebit, UAE-based space art curator Selenian and Astrobotic to make the mission possible.
This comes as part of NASA’s commercial lunar payload services (CLPS) programme, which uses commercial lander services by private companies to learn more about the Moon.
An indestructible canvas
The 45-year-old British artist tells Gulf News that the project has been in the works for the past two decades, while his own contribution took a year. After stringent vibration, vacuum and quality tests, the teams settled on a square canvas, made of aerospace aluminium gold to weather the Moon’s extreme temperatures.
The result is an 11 by 11 cm metallic plate, weighing 45 grams, with Jafri’s original artwork engraved on it using laser.
The mission commemorates 50 years since NASA’s last moon landing in 1972. But it’s not just the artwork that’s being sent to mark an era. The piece will be accompanied by science instruments and technology experiments from the mission partners to help NASA explore the natural satellite.
Moon art NFTs to fund charities
Originally from London, Jafri’s been living in Dubai for 22 years. Many might recognise him for having sold the fourth most expensive artwork by a living artist, right here in Dubai, at $62 million (Dh227,713,600). It was the world’s largest painting on canvas, titled ‘The Journey of Humanity’. Following the sale, proceeds from the auction went to organisations like UNESCO and Dubai Cares.
Then it’s not surprising that the lunar piece stands for love and empathy. Alongside the launch, Jafri will release five non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of the artwork to raise funds for charity. And as is the nature of these digital assets, there is only one of each in the world.
“In the Metaverse, we can connect 7.5 billion people – that’s what we will do with this project,” said Jafri. “It will enable the whole world to connect in the Metaverse, to actually build a charitable NFT project that will change the world, will raise more money than you’ve ever imagined.”
Each NFT will launch to commemorate the five stages of the mission – from the rocket launch entering the stratosphere, the Earth circumnavigation, the Moon sling-shot, the Moon landing and the legacy of the eternal artwork on the Moon.
The donated funds are set to feed into the four “main concerns of our world”, according to Jafri. These are charities focused on health, education, sustainability and equality. “That’s the whole point of the project,” he added. “We’re going to focus on raising awareness and reconnecting humanity away from discrimination and intolerance.”
Lacus Mortis, a world heritage landmark
The art’s forever home is a lunar plain called Lacus Mortis on the near side of the Moon, after which it will become a world heritage landmark. It’s flying there in the latter half of the year; the exact launch date is yet to be revealed. But Jafri has no qualms about the first CLPS mission.
“Six months ago, I did, but now? No, 100 per cent not. NASA’s put everything into this. Pavlov (founder of Spacebit) says, ‘If it doesn’t do it on the first time, we’ll do it again and again till this lands on the Moon’.”