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A man looking up into space. Photo: Klemen Vrankar/Unsplash.
A man looking up into space. Photo: Klemen Vrankar/Unsplash.

Collectors to Launch Artwork into Space to Draw Attention to Climate Change in Africa

The African Artists for Development (AAD)—a charitable organization founded by French collectors Gervanne and Matthias Leridon in 2009—is planning to launch an artwork by a contemporary African artist into space in order to spotlight a data-collection mission that will attempt to measure how climate change is impacting Africa. The research will ultimately be used to help leaders of African countries make decisions about sustainable development, agricultural practices, and other polices. The announcement comes less than a year after artist Trevor Paglen sent a sculpture, Orbital Reflector, into space on the rocket SpaceX Falcon 9.

According to the Art Newspaper, AAD is partnering with the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), Arianespace, and the World Meteorological Organization to realize the project. A selection committee appointed by AAD—comprising the South African curator Melissa Goba, the Nigerian singer Keziah Jones, the French Rwandan writer Gaël Faye, and the French Ivorian publisher of the African Art Market Report Jean Philippe Aka—invited more than sixty artists to submit proposals for artworks and will reveal the shortlisted artists in October and the winner in November.

The artist whose proposal is chosen will participate in a three-month residency at Eumetsat in Darmstadt, Germany, where they will develop their work. It will then be transferred onto the nose of the Ariane 5 launcher, which will be carrying the Eumetsat satellite responsible for collecting data. Before the scheduled 2021 takeoff, the artwork will be presented at the World Meteorological Organization’s headquarters in Geneva and at Eumetsat’s annual African congress in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.