Peak of Eternal Light
Peak of Eternal Light: specific points on the polar regions of the Moon bathed in continuous sunlight.

‘Peak of Eternal Light’ takes us on a speculative journey to the Moon. The project features a monumental temple on the South Pole of the Moon and a series of sacred objects and sculptures, establishing an enigmatic material culture yet to be discovered. Masks, offering vessels and other forms of precious regalia invite us to imagine profound lunar rituals; they represent the vast diversity embedded in the human experience. These objects carry within them thousands of stories yet to be written. By reimagining the Moon as sacred archive for ancient, intangible, more personal ways-of-knowing, we’re invited to participate in an alternative future where people can decide —if necessary— what to take with us and perhaps even more important, what to leave behind.

When appointed Artist in Residence at the Advanced Concepts Team of the European Space Agency ESA, Jorge Mañes Rubio used his privileged position to explore an anthropological approach when addressing the future human presence on the Moon. Transporting us to this numinous, nearly unspoiled territory, the artist recalls the images and symbols humanity needs to reconnect with a higher purpose, challenging the exploitative and colonial patterns historically taken for granted in space exploration.

Looking at Mañes Rubio’s work is disconcerting to say the least. While we’re invited to discover evidence that sustain a prosperous human presence on the Moon, these buildings and objects appear to us as relics from a bygone past, implying the inescapable collapse of their source community. Hence the more sustainable, spiritual —perhaps even utopian— narrative the artist has envisioned for our interplanetary future remains in a liminal estate, full of hope and helpless at the same time. It’s precisely in this contradiction that his work becomes most valuable, confident, even implacable, tirelessly looking for the traces that make us human regardless of space and time. Peak of Eternal Light foresees a future that does not perpetuate the survival of the most privileged at the expense of the most vulnerable, but instead acknowledges our fragile position in this universe and our responsibilities towards it.

“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. Jorge has made a beautiful bridge between ethnography and space exploration, by imagining future empirical evidence from a ‘Moon Village culture’.”
Leopold Summerer, head of the Advanced Concepts Team, European Space Agency

“I have no idea if the Moon Temple is utopian or not – not more than if it was utopian, centuries ago to make the Egyptian pyramids, the European Cathedrals, the temples all around the planet or to decide that some mountains and caves were sacred places. Somehow, human spirituality needs large symbols.”
Laurent Pambaguian, Structures, Mechanisms and Materials Division at the European Space Agency

 

The Moon Temple, from the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2017. Digital pigment print, 150x100cm & 90x60cm

The Moon Temple will be located on the rim of the Shackleton, a gigantic impact crater situated right on the south pole of the Moon. With a diameter of 21km and more than 4200m deep, this imposing location is a potential candidate for a future outpost on the Moon due to its unique lighting conditions. While some of its peaks receive almost continuous sunlight, its interior (one of the coldest and darkest places in the Solar System) may have captured water ice, key for a self-sustainable lunar settlement.

The Moon Temple could serve social, cultural and spiritual purposes and will be built using sintered lunar regolith. Such material and technology will most likely create ‘soft’ structures, resembling the way traditional adobe architecture has been used on our planet for centuries. The design and visualisation has been inspired by the complex celestial mechanics that operate on the south pole of the Moon and by a minimal architectural style. Mañes Rubio was also inspired by XVIIIth century utopian architecture, buildings that were too massive to ever be built but that nevertheless had a huge influence in modern architecture. With 1/6 of Earth’s gravity, what might seem utopian here on Earth could someday be possible to achieve on the Moon. The Moon Temple celebrates the Moon as the measure of all things. It is a monument to humanity’s reason and imagination. It represents our chance to bring together once again science, art and ritual.

The Moon Temple (approaching), from the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2017. Digital pigment print, 150x100cm & 90x60cm

 

The Moon Temple (entrance), from the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2017. Digital pigment print, 150x100cm & 90x60cm, edition of 6 + 2AP

 

The Moon Temple (interior), from the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2017. Digital pigment print, 150x100cm & 90x60cm

 

The Moon Temple (Earth Oculus), from the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2017. Digital pigment print, 150x100cm & 90x60cm

Untitled #1 (Vessel)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 20x18x17cm
Mylar, lunar regolith simulant

 

Untitled #3 (Protection)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 95x36x7cm
Vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film, lunar regolith simulant

 

Untitled #6 (Afterlife)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 22x20x5cm
Mylar, lunar regolith simulant

Untitled #8 (Courage)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 16x19x5cm
Mylar, brass, lunar regolith simulant

 

Untitled #12 (Dance)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 125x60x5cm
Lunar regolith simulant, vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film, brass, steel 

 

Untitled #9 (Loyalty)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 113x54x10cm
Vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film, lunar regolith simulant, brass

 

Untitled #7 (Trade)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 16x32x3cm
Vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film, lunar regolith simulant

Untitled #2 Yellow Gold (Reflection) & Untitled #2 Copper Gold (Reflection)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 120x90cm
Vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film on canvas

 

Untitled #13 (Moon Rays)⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2020. 205x140x80cm
Iridescent & PP colour films

 

Untitled #10 (Memory)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 165x200cm
Wool & Acrylic blend

 

Untitled #4 (Solitude)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 120x46x10cm
Vapour deposited aluminium aerospace film and lunar regolith simulant

 

Untitled #5 (Play)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 16x12x5cm
Mylar, clay. 

 

Untitled #11 (Mediators)
From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2018. 160x237cm, 160x250cm
Mylar 

 

Moon Rays. From the Peak of Eternal Light series, 2019.
Video installation. Dimensions and length variable

 

Moon Rays, video still

 

Moon Rays, video still

 

Moon Rays at Barakat Contemporary

 

Moon Rays at Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

Installation view at Barakat Contemporary

 

Installation view at Barakat Contemporary

 

Installation view at Barakat Contemporary

 

Installation view at Barakat Contemporary

 

Installation view at Barakat Contemporary

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

This project is supported by the Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst