Peak of Eternal Light (artefacts)

After months of fruitful collaboration with the European Space Agency ESA as artist in residence at the Advanced Concepts Team ACT, Jorge Mañes Rubio has started a new series of artworks working with materials that are solely used for manufacturing satellites, spaceships and other aerospace purposes, such as the iconic golden vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film and moon dust (lunar regolith simulant) that ESA is currently using to prepare astronauts for future lunar missions. These objects answer specific sacred and spiritual rituals to be held on the Moon. Inspired by the concept of the ‘Moon Village’, these new artworks merge strong ethnographic influences from past cultures with futuristic aesthetics, reimagining our legacy as human species in a potential interplanetary future. 

“While visionary concepts such as the Moon Village help us to rethink potential futures and our actions to realise them, art allows us to put them into perspective, and recall their human elements”, adds Leopold Summerer, head of the ACT. “Jorge has made a beautiful bridge between ethnography and space exploration, by imagining future empirical evidence from a ‘Moon Village culture’.”

After decades of isolation, the inhabitants of the Moon Village start developing a certain sense of self-sufficiency and common identity. For the first time they feel free from all outside domination. Like it was once common in many traditional societies from planet Earth, they start making intricate objects with a special agency whose function transcends physical interaction. 


Untitled #1 (Vessel)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2017. 20x18x17cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film on lunar regolith simulant

Unearthed from the interior of the Moon Temple, protected from direct sunlight and radiation, this exuberant vessel is almost in perfect condition, although it’s hard to establish its age. The object tells a story of the supernatural, a tale of immortality. We now know that, after the struggling first generations of settlers, the effects of lunar microgravity extended life on human bodies, allowing the Moon Village inhabitants to live significantly longer than those on planet Earth. With an erratic shape and a robust regolith exterior that resembles the lunar surface itself, the function of this vessel was most likely to symbolically encapsulate the elixir of life in its precious golden interior.


Untitled #3 (Protection)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2017. 95x36x7cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film and lunar regolith simulant

This neckpiece, carefully crafted from compressed Moon dust and aerospace materials, is believed to be one of the first objects created by lunar settlers. Due to its large size and weight, it was probably aimed to be worn only during very specific occasions. While its function remains unclear, the piece was definitely created to fulfil sacred and spiritual needs. The object was passed on through different generations of Moon Village inhabitants, and it was believed that it could help restore cosmic balance or provide protection to whoever wore it.


Untitled #6 (Afterlife)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2017. 22x20x5cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film on lunar regolith simulant

Masks have played an important role in many ancient civilisations from planet Earth. They were worn by shamans, rulers, dancers or important personalities, in many cases even accompanying them to the grave. Most were worn for important celebrations, burial rituals and transformation rites, where the mask would confer mystical powers or serve as a gateway to a parallel dimension. Burial masks were commonly used among Moon Village inhabitants to honour the deceased and secure the departing spirits with a safe passage to the afterlife. Masks were carefully crafted in moon dust featuring the faces of the deceased and covered with golden aerospace materials to protect them on their last journey.


Untitled #8 (Courage)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2018. 16x19x5cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film on lunar regolith simulant

This female mask reveals some of the most intricate decorative arts that flourished during the first civilisations on the Moon. The absence of gold deposits on the lunar surface turned into another great opportunity for the Moon Village inhabitants to show their immense creativity. Aerospace materials coming from abandoned cargo landers are reused by lunar goldsmiths to create new pieces. Some of these precious artefacts —such as the nose and ear ornaments in this example— certainly reminisce of pre-Columbian cultures, speaking of a sacred human fascination for gold. This particular mask was created to honour the courage of a woman who located cold traps inside the perpetual darkness of the lunar craters. Water ice collected inside these traps can be transformed into drinking water, oxygen and rocket fuel, turning it into the most valuable lunar resource. Only a few humans on the Moon developed a certain intuition that help them locating cold traps in situations where scientific instrumentation is of little use. This mask and its ornaments —symbolically featuring water drops— celebrate this woman’s generosity, depicting her with her eyes closed and mouth open in an expression of ecstasy.


Untitled #9 (Loyalty)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2018. 113x54x10cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film, brass, lunar regolith simulant

This massive pectoral appears to be an armour used in combat but is in fact a symbol of power and distinction reserved only for a capable lunar shaman. It reveals some of the anthropological complexities from the first civilisation on the Moon. In a world dominated by extremely harsh life conditions, humans turned to the vastness of the universe and their own spiritual realm as a mechanism to transcend the absence of life on the Moon. In an existence dominated by rigorous technological dependence and artificial nature, a new coming of shamanic practices fostered a greater connection to the cosmos and a deeper appreciation of the essential human dimension. Lunar inhabitants considerably expanded their knowledge of the universe, but at the same time acquired a greater understanding of the ethical challenges inherent in the conquest of celestial bodies. Only a handful of individuals that showed an ability to serve as a bridge between humans and the cosmic gods were endorsed with the responsibility of conducting important rituals at the Moon Temple and delivering valuable oracles. Their loyalty to the wellbeing of the community and their spiritual vocation was unquestionable.


Untitled #7 (Trade)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2018. 16x32x3cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film, lunar regolith simulant

Dependence from planet Earth —except energy easily harvested from the sun— was a norm during the first decades of existence of the lunar settlement. Moon Village inhabitants worked hard to achieve certain self-sufficiency in terms of food, oxygen and water supplies, but they still relied on cargo being dropped every week from the terrestrial landers. The lack of material goods on the Moon didn’t stop locals to start trading. Instead it created a completely new submerged lunar economy where goods were replaced by human skills. Lunar citizens would offer their talents, ranging from a particular technical knowledge to storytelling, dancing, or spiritual healing in exchange for a similar future return. Commerce was based on trust, and these mysterious objects were exchanged as a symbolic currency to represent this trust between families and clans. 


Untitled #2 Yellow Gold (Reflection) & Untitled #2 Copper Gold (Reflection)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2017. 120x90cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film on canvas

Several layers of aerospace film are stretched and placed over what appears to be an irregular surface or canvas. The result is a bursting and glowing surface, reminiscing of a powerful solar eruption. This phenomenon, usually accompanied by coronal mass ejections, occasionally results on spectacular auroras on planet Earth. On the Moon though, devoid of atmosphere and magnetic field to deflect radiation, these storms might not be fatal but have certainly been feared since the first human settlements. We can assume that this piece served as a visual reminder to the Moon Village inhabitants of these beautiful yet devastating solar events.



Untitled #4 (Solitude)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2017. 120x46x10cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film and lunar regolith simulant

Shaped in what seems to be a shield with strong ethnographic influences, this object is used in complex dances and rituals among the Moon Village inhabitants. Living in a tough environment where human contact is scarce, solitude is the most common enemy among the lunar citizens. Therefore this and other similar objects are used in celebrations, where people can acquire a majestic presence, gathering, dancing, and breaking free from their monotonous and harsh daily activities.


Untitled #5 (Play)

From the Peak of Eternal Light series, Amsterdam, 2017. 16x12x5cm

Vapor deposited aluminum aerospace film 

This particularly small mask is believed to belong to a Moon Village child. It was probably used as a role-play artefact, through which the younger generations could learn about important sacred lunar rituals. 



Peak of Eternal Light has been created by Jorge Mañes Rubio as artist in residence at the European Space Agency ESA