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Artistic Project Brings the Extinct Moon Goose Back to Life


Moon Geese? Who Knew?

Long before the visions of H.G. Wells, even before Jules Verne foresaw the possibility of a journey from the Earth to the Moon, British bishop Francis Godwin (1562-1633) wrote a fantastic story whose protagonist, Domingo Gonsales, discovers a species of wild swan that migrate to the Moon annually. Gonsales harnesses a flying machine to a flock of these extraordinary birds and is transported to the surface of the satellite. The incomparably poetic The Man in the Moone or Discourse of a Voyage Thither, published in 1638, is considered by many to be the first work of science fiction.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis (Germany 1973) revisited Godwin’s text for her project Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility. Agnes describes the project as a bio-poetic investigation. She hopes to raise a flock of geese capable of living in a habitat similar to the lunar surface.

Meyer-Brandis raised 11 geese from birth, imprinting herself on them as the mother-goose and naming them after famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin. She has taught her geese how to fly and trains them to be Moon geese in an analogue habitat, a space Meyer-Brandis called The Moon Goose Colony. Meyer-Brandis developed this project in 2011 for her residency at the Pollinaria Institute, in Abruzzo region, Italy.

During the project’s last stage, the moon geese are kept in lunar simulators in Italy. The Moon Goose Analogue installation travels the world in the form of control rooms set up in art galleries. Visitors can watch and communicate with the geese using levers, buttons and various screens, while the geese relay messages through computer displays. The exhibit/control room also features photographs of the geese, their egg shells and various other related items.

Such scientific naïveté is much welcome in an era of relentless technological advancement and ambitious plans for interplanetary travel. This beautiful fiction takes us back to a state of innocence in which magic is easily accepted. Eyes fixed on the stars, we await the next migratory transit of the Moon geese, ready to take flight upon their backs.

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