In A Space Exodus, Larissa Sansour revives scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s cult film 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) as well as some sequences from the first American lunar landings broadcast on the television (1969). Universalism, the idea of technological and human progress, the demonstration of power by the state: the strategic but often contradictory implications of heroism, supported by pieces of film from the ‘sixties about space exploration, are hijacked by the artist and brought to bear on the contemporary world. By this “remaking”, the artist takes the film out of the context of the Cold War of this period and relates it to the current troubles of the Middle East.
In Larissa Sansour’s video, the symphonic poem Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, used in the original soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s film, is remixed with Eastern overtones. The flag planted on the moon’s soil is that of the Palestinian people and the American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s famous phrase is altered to “one small step for the Palestinian, one giant leap for mankind”. The ironic, indeed humorous tone, suggesting pastiche and misappropriation is counterbalanced by the nostalgic aspect of the title A Space Exodus, implying the impossibility of the Palestinian people ever establishing their own state. Is the moon the only place left for a people in search of a homeland?
Rather than show actual violence or images of conflict, the artist makes a surprising fictional detour to refer to the political situation between Israel and Palestine. It is as if she sketches out a symbolic invitation to capture the distance of the voyage and the narrative, and to play with the imagination in order to re-invent a real and to all appearances, dead-end situation.
Translated by Theodora Taylor