Jeff Koons, the well-known American artist, has announced that he will send some of his own sculptures to the moon later this year, after which they will be sold on Earth as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the digital assets that are shaking the contemporary art market. In a Twitter post, the artist wrote, "I am very excited to announce my first-ever NFT project, 'Moon Phases,' rooted in humanistic and philosophical thought." In the essay, he continues, "Space explorations have given us a view of our power to transcend worldly constraints." A video of a wide-eyed Koons speaking about humanity's achievements in front of a circular light projection – like a child putting on a shadow play – is attached to the tweet.
"Our potential to transcend worldly constraints has been enhanced by space explorations." "These notions are important to my NFT project," the artist says in the film, "which may be viewed as a continuation and celebration of humanity's aspirational accomplishments within and beyond our own planet."
"Balloon Dog" and "Rabbit," for example, are two of Koons' most iconic huge sculptures. The latter, one of three identical stainless steel sculptures from 1986, holds the record for the most expensive piece sold at auction by a living artist, earning $91 million in 2019 at Christie's. The project's specifics have yet to be released. The number and scale of the moon-bound sculptures have yet to be determined by the Pace Gallery in New York City, but the pieces will be permanently installed on the lunar surface in a transparent, thermally treated small satellite. Intuitive Machines, a private US company, will launch the spacecraft.
The gallery stated that the objects will be landed on a section of the moon known as the Oceanus Procellarum, which is located on the planet's near side, facing the earth. The 240,000 miles between Earth and the moon take around three days to travel on average.
The landing spot is set to become a "lunar heritage site," according to the gallery's plans. In May, NASA plans to launch the satellite Artemis 1 – which will be an unmanned lunar expedition – on a test flight. At the earliest, the actual landing with crew and art on board will take place in 2026. More information on the lunar-bound artwork will be revealed in the following weeks, according to the gallery.
Pace Gallery's NFT platform Pace Verso will offer one NFT of each sculpture on the moon. "Proceeds from one of the first NFT sales will be donated to Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres," the gallery said in a statement. Some in the media have mocked the project, claiming that it makes "too much sense" for Koons' work to fly to space since "these days, outer space has become a go-to place for people who want to differentiate themselves as unusually affluent and dreadful." Despite the fact that the project will mark 50 years since America's last crewed journey to the Moon, Koons is unlikely to be the final artist to participate in the space race. Rival space business Astrobotic is also planning to send artwork by Dubai-based artist Sacha Jafri.