“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the Universe”
“From up here the Earth is beautiful, without borders or boundaries”
Venus in the SKY is a painting depicting Botticelli's Venus, the soul of the Earth, depicted in a contemporary interpretation of the absolute icon of the Italian Renaissance. A fusion of different worlds, distant from each other yet somehow linked. The search for the infinite in space, and for eternal beauty in the Renaissance, the revival of literature and the arts, sciences and in general of culture and civic life, and a more immanent philosophical and ethical conception. The operation began on 22 March 2018. Only some of the work (compatible with the need to limit the astronauts’ materials) started with the Russian orbiting spacecraft ISS 5556. The project had been suggested one year earlier, at the ceremony to hand over a work by Rossano Ferrari to the Russian state, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first Sputnik space mission. In fact, it is the only painting that has been to the International Space Station (ISS) to date. Isn't it exciting enough to know that an object we can touch with our own hands has been in orbit? The fascination with the Universe, the Moon and the stars has been a factor in every form of art across the ages. Mankind immediately realised there was a need to search the heavens for possible correlations between events in human life and cosmic phenomena. All the way back to the Neolithic era, constellations have been named as a result of this need. To memorise the stars, names were given to groups of them, alluding to aspects and elements of agricultural and pastoral life. In the Middle Ages, the Firmament referred to the perfect peace of Heaven, the abode of God, the angels and the saints. These days, science defines the Universe as everything there is in space and all it contains, i.e. material, energy, the planets, stars, galaxies and the content of intergalactic space. There has never been a single poet, painter, scientist or writer who has not fantasised about the Universe at least once in their life, in their work or solely in their imagination. The most frequently asked questions still remain unanswered, and the mystery is what continues to make us feel so small and insignificant. The short 20th century – known as such for all the events fitted into it – witnessed mankind’s most fanciful fantasies about the Universe coming true. Journeys into space have made the impossible possible. The first object launched into orbit around the Earth was Sputnik 1, by the Soviet Union in 1957. It was followed by the first flights with animal crews. The famous dog Laika – launched into space in the second Earth orbital flight on 3 November 1957 – was the first living being to enter orbit, or at least the first superior living being, considering the fact that micro-organisms were definitely present on Sputnik 1. Also under the Soviet programme, on 12 April 1961 cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel into outer space. On his return, he was ‘baptised’ cosmonaut (sailor in the Universe), whereas when Alan Shepard went into suborbital flight, the United States coined the term astronaut (sailor among the stars). Both terms come from Greek and now refer to people who have visited space in person. Works dating back to this period include Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, an extraordinary success in translation all over the world, and the visionary Frank Herbert’s Dune cycle, contemporary with 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. In 1969, David Bowie released Space Oddity, featuring his best-known character Major Tom, who lost contact with Earth and drifted into the infinite. Meanwhile, Star Trek kept millions of viewers glued to the screen, in a pop-culture opening-up that would become definitive in 1977 with the creation of the highly successful Star Wars franchise.
In short, since the Cold War space has always been the preserve of national governments or large industrial groups. At least, this was the case until a few years ago, when new billionaires decided to start their own space race using their inexhaustible wealth. To begin with, it was almost like a fantasy they wanted to come true. In 2021 Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, took off into space alongside his brother and two other passengers. For now, he has limited himself to only a few trips out of orbit, in a kind of space tourism also much coveted by Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic and the first person to have taken steps in this direction. In financial terms, the current frontrunner is the histrionic founder of Tesla, Elon Musk. He is the one who has made the winning bids for highly lucrative contracts with NASA for rockets and spacecraft that in recent months have taken American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA has declared SpaceX the sole winner of a tender worth $2.9 billion. On 5 October 2021, director Klim Shipenko and actress Yulia Peresild finally docked in the ISS aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, along with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. During the 12-day mission, sequences were made of a film featuring a female surgeon sent to the module to save a cosmonaut. The title – The Challenge – speaks volumes about the spirit of the operation. The aim is to make the first film with scenes shot in genuine orbit. Just like being the first to put a man into space, Russia is determined to score that goal. Despite differing objectives, for too many years Musk, Bezos and Branson have been taking steps into this world with government bodies as their backers. The future of the economy is in space, as these three pioneers know well. But not only because one day many people will be willing to pay a great deal of money on a unique experience, a journey into space. It’s also because all around them will be a sector made up of laboratories and universities, which will be able to test their technology with less difficulty than the long, costly process to conduct experiments on the International Space Station, for example. There could be no other name than “Space Gallery” for the Carpi art gallery committed to supporting, disseminating and telling the story of the artist Rossano Ferrari’s incredible dream, of sending a work of art into orbit. This book tells the story of a work by a painter from Modena, “Venus in the SKY”, taking a short break on the International Space Station (ISS). It was taken up into space and brought back to Earth by the Russian astronaut Oleg Artemyev, who was in February 2016 awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation (having spent over one year in space, as a flight engineer on Expedition 55 to the International Space Station). Rossano Ferrari’s next dream is for one of his works to float away into deep space, making art eternal and infinite. That wasn't possible during this first mission, given that astronauts are not permitted to produce waste and discard it into space, but it might happen in the future. A performance where the artist communicates with the infinite and can definitively make the ideas of the 1960s spacialist movement come true: to explore the third dimension. Last but not least is Ferrari’s hope that his Venus could meet other forms of life, starting up a unprecedented conversation, which may or may not be impossible. Reading this today might seem mere science fiction, but worth a mention are the words of the astrophysicist Margherita Hack in one of her final interviews: “Thinking that we are alone in the Universe is an absurd idea. Maybe life will be rare because it requires so many favourable conditions and, of the planets discovered to date, most are unsuitable for life. For example, the “hot Jupiters” are too large, too hot and too close to their star. But there will also be Earths and then, if the conditions are favourable, it's very likely that what happened on Earth will happen or has happened there too. There’s no reason to think that we’re special”.
The Baikonur Cosmodrome is the first and the largest operational space launch facility in the world,
it is located in the desert steppe of southern Kazakhstan
was built on June 2, 1955
The International Space Station (ISS), is a giant floating space laboratory moving around Earth.
The astronauts live on board the ISS all year round
The research carried out on board the ISS is to benefit all humans on Earth, with regards to health, clean energy and for protecting the environment.