Gallery: Pékin Fine Arts
Artist(s): Phénix Varbanov
Opening / Event Date: 28 Jul, 2023
Closing / End Date: 30 Sep, 2023
JPS Gallery Hong Kong proudly presents Moon Lands On Man, our first show in celebration of the gallery’s 10th anniversary. The show will kick off with a fully immersive large-scale cardboard installation straight out of every child’s fantasy, but hidden within this fantastical dreamland is an unseen world riddled with moon landing conspiracy theories.
Whether the Apollo 11 mission was an elaborate hoax has been a long-standing debate, with many conspiracy theorists claiming that the U.S. government faked the moon landing for different motives.Although the arguments presented by the conspiracy theorists have been discredited and debunked by scientific facts, many people continue to believe that the moon landing was faked. For this exhibition, Moon Lands On Man,American artist Barminski will put a humorous and pessimistic twist on this highly controversial and polarising topic.
Renowned for his cardboard sculpture artworks, Barminski participated in Banksy’s dystopian theme park Dismaland in 2015 and Museum Belowground curated by JPS Gallery in 2021. He proudly expressed that he creates these works because they are fun and interesting, all whilst allowing visitors the opportunity to interact with artworks in a way that is different from the traditional gallery experience.As a talented multidisciplinary artist living in the era of Artificial Intelligence (Al), he used ChatGPT to write an artist statement about this show. In addition, his diverse skill set led him to create a different unique visual and auditory experience for each of the three areas in the exhibition space.
In contradiction to the overarching theme of Moon Lands On Man, visitors will first step into a colourful toy store filled with a series of cardboard sculptures created by the artist.The toy store is a place of escape from reality so they can fully immerse themselves in a world of blissful childhood memories. One cannot help but smile when they notice the artist’s elaborate production as he also handcrafted a large number of playful props—ranging from burning cigarettes and a bag of potato chips to a nostalgic payphone and a life-size astronaut.
Passing through the staff corridor, he will lead the visitors into the restricted area in the Department of Defence, the mysterious military facility known as “Area 51”. In this highly classified control room, the entire installation replicates the exact control room of Apollo 11, with screens playing footage of the moon landing. Also displayed throughout the room are original paintings by the artist featuring recognisable faces, such as the former president of the United States, John F Kennedy and American astronaut Neil Armstrong. Inside the room is a studio door with an “On Air” sign mounted above, where the startling “truth” awaits them. Walking into the film set where the first moon landing was staged and filmed, they are forced to reckon with the idea that what they have always believed to be “true” was all a show in this political gambit. Does it mean that anything proved to be “true” must be “real” in today’s world?
Barminski described his cardboard artworks as simultaneously real and fake as it depends on the viewer’s expectation. If they expect it to be a real Star Wars toy, then it’s fake. If they expect it to be a piece of art, then it’s real. A toy utopia lives within everyone’s heart, but societal issues that warrant their attention and insight continue to exist, so Barminski’s dark yet humorous take on these topics encourages everyone to discover the truth behind authenticity and falsehood.