In April of 2005 I selected the photography of Shirin Neshat as Giraffe's Site of the Month, referring viewers to her exhibit "The Gun and the Gaze". This spring the Museum of Modern Art presented an exhibition called "Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking". Fourteen artists in the show came from the world of Islam, including Neshat, as well as two Americans who were apparently added at the last moment, Bill Viola and Mike Kelley. In response, Neshat participated in an interview entitled "Nota Bene" in which she expressed her dissatisfaction with the exhibit's lack of political and religious implications, as though Islamic art could be viewed aesthetically without considering the geopolitical context. Although MOMA has shown art with political overtones in the past, it seems to have taken a more cautious approach in this instance. The full interview with Neshat as available at

In August of 2005 I described the status of the International Space Station and its efforts to include art and culture in the exploration of Space. The final report, called Executive Summary, has now been issued by the Arts Catalyst Group describing their strategies for involving art and media in the ISS. The full report is available here, but I thought I would summarize some of their findings for you. This is a pdf document which you will need Adobe Reader to open.

The primary emphasis should be on quality, since a top notch science program should have first-class art. The main channel for achieving this quality, they state, is through professional arts organizations and curators. Although some artists objected to the inclusion of galleries and curators, it was felt that this was the most expedient way to make selections. Keep in mind that this is a project of the European Space Agency and therefore has a decidedly European bias, although artists like myself from other cultures were invited to submit ideas (and mine came from a group of digital artists who opted to participate with me). An artists' residency program to familiarize everyone with the available facilities was deemed essential. There is also a proposal for dealing with unsolicited applications. The selected projects should work specifically with the ISS, hopefully linking science, art, culture, education and media. They recognize that artists need to work directly with the astronauts, and that programs should be instituted in schools and colleges as well as other cultural institutions like film and media in order to form a supporting network.

In addition to quality, the Arts Catalyst Group wants to emphasize interaction between the space environment and the chosen projects. The suggestions that appealed to them included communication between the ground and the space station, attaching objects to the spacecraft, utilizing the ATV when it docks with the space station, studying sculpture in a zero gravity environment, web-based performances, sound as an art element in the space station and putting spotlights on significant ISS launch sites.

The final document has a number of illustrations of art projects for the ISS, which is one reason among many to read the original. I will keep you updated.

c.Corinne Whitaker 2006