zurich

Roman Ondák, Enter the Orbit (detail), 2011, mixed media, ninety-six elements, dimensions variable.

Roman Ondák

Kunsthaus Zurich

Roman Ondák, Enter the Orbit (detail), 2011, mixed media, ninety-six elements, dimensions variable.

The Sputnik lies there like a sack of sturdy linen with stenciled numbers. It’s even got an address: ROMAN ONDÁK, SPUTNIKOVA 1, BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA. Seventeen stamps commemorating the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 show the Earth as a blue ball encircled by a blue ring representing the spacecraft’s orbit. The stamps bear cancellation marks. This work, After Return from Orbit, 2011, appears to be part of a dream that has haunted Slovak artist Roman Ondák for many years—at least since 2004 when, for one of his first major works, Spirit and Opportunity, 2004, he built up an artificial Martian landscape for an exhibition of the same title at the Kölnischer Kunstverein: the dream that one can take hold of the universe, somehow getting a grip on the simultaneously scientific and fantastical enterprise of conquering the cosmos.

This is also the theme of Ondák’s work Star City, 2003—a

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