ANILORE BANON Fly me to the moon

Anilore Banon, a French sculptor, is preparing for her latest work to take a giant leap for mankind, with the help of 1 million handprints. If she succeeds, everyone on Earth will be able to enjoy her latest work of art from wherever they live.

“I’m a very curious person,” explains Anilore Banon. “I’ve always been interested in how people behave and connect. That’s why I became an artist. Not to do art.”

Banon, a French sculptor with an international reputation, began her education by studying conflict and has used that knowledge to develop her work as an artist. Her résumé includes pieces such as The Braves, installed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, which was commissioned by the French government to commemorate the 60 anniversary of the D-Day landings in World War II.

The work, originally intended to be temporary, was made permanent because of its popularity (spearheaded by the “Save the Braves” campaign). It is visually startling, with a number of steel columns jutting out of the beach where so many men lost their lives. It was created to symbolize humanity’s strength in the face of evil.

That blending of art, nature and science is used to tell the story of humanity’s struggles and achievements, all of which can be seen as a precursor to Banon’s most ambitious project to date.

“Like everyone on the planet, I was feeling more and more anxious and fearful about the world we live in today, whether it’s global warming or terrorist attacks,” she said. “However, the fraternity and bravery that people displayed when these attacks happen is incredible. My question was: If we can do that during tragic events, why can’t we do that to celebrate life?”

In answer to her question, Banon decided to work on a piece of art that would unite people. “That allows us to look to the future with confidence,” she said. “To create something together.”

That work, which also explores the relationship of science and art, is now in the latter stages of achieving an unprecedented goal: putting a sculpture on the moon.


The feat – named VITAE PROJECT – is a continuation of her past works’ messages of hope and courage – just on a much bigger scale.

She describes the sculpture as “alive”. Made from a shape-memory alloy, it will interact with the temperatures on the moon, which vary between -170°C and 120°C (-274°F - 248°F), the sculpture will move and change with the temperatures.



The sculpture, which will have the shape of a cocoon during the day, will open up – almost flower-like – during the night to expose 20 tendrils. The tendrils, Banon said, represent humanity being “deployed” during times of darkness. A powerful light on the tallest of these tendrils will be visible from Earth with a basic telescope.

When the sculpture is fully open it will be almost bowl-shaped, covered with the handprints of 1 million people from around the world. To collect the handprints, a mobile container – which was in China before heading to Europe – invites the public to participate in the project. Handprints have also been collected in schools, hospitals and at public events. The entire thing is being funded by collectors as well as donations from those who want their handprint added to the sculpture.


To realize her dream, Banon worked with a number of scientific contributors, including Dassault Systèmes, “to test and simulate the material’s resistance to heat and to see whether the optical solutions would be visible from Earth”.

The project has been split into four stages, from designing the sculpture itself to taking a first preliminary flight to the edge of space on a weather balloon launched from Omaha Beach. The third stage, undertaken in February 2017, involved a mockup of Vitae blasting off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station for material tests in zero gravity.

The final step will be to launch Vitae to the moon. If everything goes to plan, this will happen in late 2018, giving Banon enough time to finish collecting the handprints and tests, as well as financing.

“I can’t visualize the difficulties when I work – which is often a good thing,” she said. “None of the scientific partners ever mentioned changing Vitae in order to find a solution, however. The challenge was to keep the structure the way it is and to find the right answers. That has been great for this project. It’s what it’s all about – how people connect and the fact that we are better when we work together. Nothing is impossible anymore.”


Théâtre de la Ville in Paris,                   Paris Book Fair at Porte de Versailles in Paris,
December 15, 2017                              March 16-19, 2018
to January 5, 2018

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von Samuel Ballard

Anilore Banon and the VITAE PROJECT
Send me to the moon (for collecting handprints)
Anilore's speech at the Design in the Age of Experience event 2017