"전아주 호기심이 많은 사람이예요.”라고 에닐로 베농은 설명한다. “사람들이 어떻게 행동하고 관계를 맺는가에 늘 관심을 가져왔지요. 그래서 예술가가되었습니다. 그저 작품을 만들기 위해서가 아니고요.”
국제적 명성을 가진 프랑스 출신 조각가인 베농은 갈등문제 연구를 통해 학업을 시작했고 그 지식을 발판으로 삼아 그녀의 예술 작품을 구상해왔다. 그녀의 작품 중에는 프랑스 노르망디 오마하 해변에 설치된 ‘용감한 사람들’이라는 작품이있는데, 2차 대전 노르망디 상륙작전 60주년을기념하여 프랑스 정부에서 위탁한 작품이다
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 VITAE PROJECT
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.
“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.”ANILORE BANON
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.”
NEXT TOUR STOPS
Anilore Banon and the VITAE PROJECT