Objet d’Art: A Space Oddity

Published January 15, 2016

ABOVE: “MOCKUP LUNAR RAKE USED FOR TRAINING,” CREATED BY NASA & GRUMMAN AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING CORPORATION. PHOTO COURTESY OF FRAN PARENTE.

Every month, Interview picks an artist- or designer-created object that straddles the line between aesthetics and function. Subdued tastes need not apply.   

Though humble in appearance, this object is the product of great ambitions. Dubbed a “Lunar Rake,” it was designed and manufactured in the late 1960s in partnership with NASA. A facsimile of the implement that astronauts would theoretically use to scrape up dust on the moon, this model was used only during training.

Artist Andrew Zuckerman, who is known for his multidisciplinary depictions of nature, included it in the second collection of objects featured at the New York boutique Chamber, which sells limited edition objects and art that are refreshed annually by a chosen curator. Zuckerman chose to explore the relationship between humans and nature. “It became a very intuitive process of casting a really wide net that spanned materials, functionalities, and time,” he explains. The “Lunar Rake,” which he had acquired at an auction, fit in to the larger narrative he was trying to tell. “The rake is a traditional tool–historically, a farming implement–used to sow seeds, which is a kind of grooming for the future. In a sense, the tool used to gather material from the moon was an implement for investing in our future as a race.”

The “Lunar Rake” especially appealed to us this week, as it happens to date to 1969, the year David Bowie released his first smash hit, “Space Oddity.” The song translated the excitement and possibility of space travel for a pop culture imagination, transcending the science and politics in which it was then anchored. As Zuckerman puts it, “Exploration is a deeply human instinct that relates to both our present curiosities and future survival.” It’s a divine reason to get lost in our stars.

“MOCK UP LUNAR RACK USED FOR TRAINING” CREATED BY NASA AND GRUMMAN AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING CORPORATION IS OBJECT Nº 32 IN COLLECTION #2 AT CHAMBER, CURATED BY ANDREW ZUCKERMAN AND VIEWABLE ONLINE.

Objet D’Art runs every month. For more, click here.