Musk occupying Mars and BIG has moon plans

Dare mighty things they said

Sewing thread, shower curtain, moon dust simulant.


mål 29 × 42 cm

Musk occupying Mars and BIG has moon plans

Moon dust simulant, seam with flag. Holes from hole machine.


29 × 42 cm

Freeze and harvest

Watercolor, screenshot from naza.


29 x 17 cm

Who sets their flag where, and what does this mean for future resources and power relations? With the exhibition Musk occupying Mars and BIG has Moon plans, Mathilde Bjerre (b. 1992) presents five “office-table works” (skrivebordsværker) that revolve around space travel and the race intended to capitalize on space exploration. The exhibition is an aftershock of thoughts and moon-orbit simulations in drawing, watercolor and print, on display until 5 May 2021 at the BKF Sekretariat (Copenhagen).
What characterizes your practice and the works you show here?

In the works in the exhibition I do not establish a total idea or perception of the world, but a local look out and in through a material. For example, in three of the works I have drawn with the material 'lunar regolith simulant'. This is an earth-based material that attempts to simulate the chemical, technical properties and particle size distributions of lunar regolith (moondust). The material is being used by scientists, for example, to study how technical equipment is affected by dust during excavation and transport on the moon, and to investigate how to use the lunar regolith itself.

On one of the pieces of lunar regolith simulant, two flags are placed: one with a Elon Musk’s logo on and one with the BIG Bjarke Ingels Group one. In a collage of newsfeeds, Mathilde writes this about the work:

- Elon Musk is crying and he has trouble finding words. His spaceship, SpaceX Dragon, has just completed a successful launch, the first step towards his dream of creating a civilization on Mars. A man who has set out to save mankind from destruction.

Musk tweets 'Occupy Mars' alongside a photo of the moon.

- Later writes "Moon too" on the tweets people send commenting on his photo.
- Musk posts on Instagram a photo of himself wearing a T-shirt that reads 'Occupy Mars'. You can now buy it as merchandise in the SpaceX online shop.
- BIG draws housing on the moon. They have partnered with NASA and others to research and develop a space-based construction system to explore habitation on the moon.

You heat up the moon dust to turn it into lunar lava, and then you print, says Bjarke Ingels.
No bricks will be flown to the moon, houses will be 3D-printed with local lunar material.

Another work where you also use lunar regolith simulant is the work 'Dare mighty things they said'. Hanging from thin red threads is the hand-stitched text DARE MIGHTY THINGS. Can you tell us more about what the work refers to?

The work refers to NASA's recent mission on Mars. When the Mars Rover from the 2020 Mars landing unfolded its parachute to land, the red and white pattern of the parachute hid a secret code. The white and red fields were a binary code made up of 1s and 0s, with the three innermost rings of the parachute just forming the words: 'DARE MIGHTY THINGS'.
The work 'Freeze and harvest' is a still, painted in watercolor, of NASA's website. In the watercolor you can read NASA's latest updates, including how a robot the size of a golf cart will be hunting for water on the moon in 2022, with the eventual aim of establishing sustainable habitation and a staging area on the way to Mars. You'll also see the work 'Moon in a pond', which takes up most of the space in the exhibition. It is a poster made with Faber-Castell markers and an outline of a dinner plate. Can you tell us more about what it means when you call it “table tub works"
Working on space travel from a local position like an office is an attempt to communicate and understand something that feels incomprehensible and far away. With the different parts of the exhibition I try to understand globalisation as a system of relations and as a totalitarian concept invented in the West. I think of much of my work as a kind of re-decoration with the intention of detecting shifts. I am interested in folk art, both aesthetically and for ideas of transformable or reused. It is, in a way, a study of human expression at its smallest and at its largest. It is the place from which I find it exciting to think further. And the place where I experience visual art as a necessity and as a good place to breathe.

You graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2019. What has it been like to jump into the art world after years of training? Many people struggle to make ends meet at the beginning of their working lives - how do you experience that transition?

The transition from being a student to the working world has brought up a lot of issues that have not been easy. I started as a decorator in a DIY shop full-time, shortly after graduating in 2019. I was paid a fixed salary to make displays and sales. I struggled to come to terms with working conditions in the arts scene, and I was probably also overwhelmed by the 'open calls arena' where the battle for arts funding is fought. It was an attempt at an 'anti-escalation' of desk time. I ended up quitting, though, because the Euro-pallets were pouring in with globalisation and I had too many critical observations to share with my colleagues in the shop. I missed my fellow artists and colleagues.
Since then I have helped to start a studio community in Vesterbrogade 107 (Copenhagen) and have formed what I and my colleagues call a Computer Club, where the reflections I missed are part of the work. Right now I am in the fortunate position of having received funding from the Danish Arts Foundation and moved to Lisbon to study at Maumaus, which is an Independent Study Program where I have the space to work for a while.

Moon in a pond

Poster, Faber-Castell markers, outline of dinner plate.


50 X 70