Agnes Meyer-Brandis

Agnes Meyer-Brandis, an artist based in Berlin, Germany, presents a project that continues her exploration in both the myths and realities of weightlessness. Meyer-Brandis’ artistic process is a cross between myth making, scientific research, and creating a platform for public discussion about attitudes towards the exploration of new worlds, whether on Earth or beyond.

For many years the artistic work of Agnes Meyer-Brandis, the founder and director of Research Raft for Subterranean Reefology (FFUR) has explored deep in the dark zone above the earth and ice. However, the 2007 Cloud Core Scanner project took her to the other extreme, to the skies. The artist was accepted to carry out a multidisciplinary art project during three scientific weightlessness flights of the German Space Agency. The final result in 2010 was Making Clouds, or On the Absence of Weight. As a mix of film, performance and lecture it shows flying machines with mechanisms based on gravity and weightlessness, examines cloud cores and presents a gravimetric documentation of an unusual experiment.

The Moon Goose Colony is a poetic-scientific investigation, weaving fact, imagination, storytelling and myth, past, present and future. The film is based on the book “The Man in the Moone”, written by the English bishop Francis Godwin in 1603, in which the protagonist flies to the Moon in a chariot towed by moon geese. Agnes Meyer-Brandis has actualised this concept by raising 11 moon geese from birth, giving them astronautsʼ names*, imprinting them on herself as goose-mother and training them to fly.

Meyer-Brandis develops the contested history of Godwinʼs original fiction – posthumously and pseudonymously published as if the genuine account of the travels of Domingo Gonsales. She weaves a narrative that explores the observer’s understanding of the fictitious and the factual, with a nod to notions of the believably absurd.

Academic, William Poole1 in his Preface to the 2009 edition of The Man in the Moone2 explains the importance of Godwinʼs work. “First, it is a work of literary sophistication. It is narrated by a slightly implausible figure who does a number of very implausible things, not least fly to the moon and back…its supposed time-frame further heightens readerly problems about who and what to trust in this text, and why…its finely integrated discussion of various state-of-the-art ideas about astronomy and cosmology,
magnetic attraction, diurnal rotation, and the possibility of interplanetary travel and extraterrestrial life. The dramatisation of these discussions in The Man in the Moone is at once a form of popular science and also a form of popular fiction. This is the age-old problem of fiction – the probable impossible intermingled with the possible improbable…

* Neil, Svetlana, Gonzales, Valentina, Friede, Juri, Buzz, Kaguya-Anousheh, Irena, Rakesh, Konstantin-Hermann

1 William Poole is John Galsworthy Fellow, New College, Oxford and author of The World Makers: Scientists of the Restoration and The Search for the Origins of the Earth, 2010

2 The Man in the Moone, 1638, Broadview Editions by Francis Godwin and William Poole, Paperback, 1 Nov 2009, preface

The film is part of a larger project called The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, a bio-poetic and long term experiment the artist Agnes Meyer-Brandis started beginning of 2011 at Pollinaria, an ecological farm in Abruzzo, Italy. The idea was to imprint and raise Moon Geese, a mythic migration bird that travels between Moon and Earth. With a group of ornithologist, we decided to base the project on the heritage of another endangered species: the Roman Goose, attempting to support the survival of both: the fictitious and the real bird.

The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility was commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and FACT Liverpool in Partnership with Pollinaria. The Moon Goose Colony P1 is a Pollinaria project by Agnes Meyer-Brandis.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis first studied Mineralogy at the RWTH Aachen. She attended the Academy of Media Arts Köln from 2001 to 2003. She has been awarded various scholarships and prizes, such as Villa Aurora Resident Los Angeles 2010, Artist in Residence, National Center for Contemporary Art (NCCA) Ekaterinburg & Moscow, 2009/Russia, transmediale06 winner first price 2006/Germany. Exhibitions include 2009 “Biennale at the End of the World,” Argentina, “Art On Site,” 3rd Moscow Biennale, 2004 BEAP – Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth, Australia, and others.

Artist website

The Arts Catalyst commission of
The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility

Video documentation of
The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility

• left images: Video stills from The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility depicting the artist working with the geese to teach them to fly in formation. The artist spent several months constantly with the geese from the time of their hatching in order to imprint herself on them. She then worked with them for an entire year.

• Frontispiece and cover of the first edition of The Man in the Moone, 1638

• Video still from The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility waiting for the geese to fly her to the Moon as an attempted realization to enact Francis Godwin’s descriptions in 1603.

• Original installation of The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility, 2011, commissioned by The Arts Catalyst and FACT Liverpool, in partnership with Pollinaria for the exhibition Republic of the Moon.

• Video still from The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility depicting training of geese on model of moon surface at Pollinaria in Italy.

• Video still from The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility. All photos courtesy of the artist.