ARTICLE SARAH CRISTOBAL
PHOTOGRAPHY MARCO BRAMBILLA
MULTIMEDIA ARTIST MARCO BRAMBILLA REVEALS HOW HIS CHILDHOOD DREAM BECAME A REALITY IN AN UPCOMING EXHIBITION THAT WILL TAKE FLIGHT THIS FALL
When Italian-born artist Marco Brambilla was about three years old, his father took him to Cape Canaveral to witness the glory of NASA. “It was the first trip that I really remember,” he says, his voice still filled with boyish excitement. Fast-forward through an impressive career as a director (you may recall the awesomeness that was Demolition Man?), gallery openings that have dotted the globe, and last year’s “Power” video—in which Kayne West is a well-accessorized demigod on the brink of the apocalypse—and Brambilla is still awestruck by the final frontier.
Fortunately NASA is equally giddy about art (they have a program through which selected artists can access the archives and contribute to the organization’s gallery). Friends at the nonprofit art organization Creative Time put Brambilla in contact with the space program—and his query could not have been better-timed. NASA’s fourth shuttle, and the last to go into space, Atlantis—which took six years to build and made its first tour of duty in 1985—had completed its last mission on July 21, 2011. It was on its way to being broken down and excavated before going on display in Orlando when Brambilla swooped into the Kennedy Space Center with his camera. “It’s kind of a different object that actually goes on display,” he says. “It’s more of a prop. So the interesting part of it for me was to capture it before it goes through that process.”
During its tenure, Atlantis served as the in-orbit launch pad for many rockets and even linked up with the Russian Mir to create one of the largest spacecrafts ever. Brambilla photographed the shuttle in the 50-story-high Space Center; images from the shoot, along with actual footage from NASA’s International Space station, will be spliced together to lend a zero-gravity dreaminess to a four-minute video collage scheduled to debut this fall in L.A.
Brambilla likens the finished work to a video time capsule. “Atlantis was the last American spaceship to carry astronauts into space, and now there’s really no plan to build any more,” he says. “To actually be able to stand on this kind of threshold of history—it’s exciting and exhilarating. There’s definitely that feeling, which is both awe-inspiring and like you’re looking at something that’s trapped in time.
Atlantis (OV-104) will be on display at the Christopher Grimes Gallery in Los Angeles this fall