Sacha Jafri on sending first official artwork to the Moon: 'It will last for ever'

Five charitable NFTs from the British contemporary artist will also be launched to commemorate each stage of the mission

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Fifty years after its last mission to the Moon, Nasa is returning to the lunar surface, this time with a handful of international companies as well as an artwork.

An engraved plate of aerospace-grade aluminium gold, the artwork is called We Rise Together — with the Light of the Moon and was created by British artist Sacha Jafri. The heart-shaped piece was unveiled on Wednesday during a press conference at the US Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“This plate will last for ever,” Jafri said during the unveiling. “It is a heart motif with two figures entwined in love. It represents the reconnection of humanity. It tries to evoke that feeling of getting away from the nonsense or the discrimination, the hate, the intolerance. Everything that we’ve had to go through as a humanity. Now is the time for change. I hope this artwork represents that.”

Jafri’s artwork will be placed on the Moon with the help of Selenian, a UAE company that specialises in the curation of art in space, as well as Spacebit, Astrobotic and Nasa through its Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative.

Pavlo Tanasyuk, founder of Spacebit, said the plate was designed with the same materials as the Moon lander and is inlaid with gold to help it withstand conditions on the lunar surface.

“It’s a different environment, there is no atmosphere,” he said. “You're exposed to radiation, to extreme temperatures, so you really have to use space-grade technology to make the artwork survive for thousands of years. I believe what we have created is an ultimate piece of engineering and art combined together.”

An image of the artwork by Sacha Jafri that will be sent to the Moon. Antonie Robertson / The National

Tanasyuk noted there were numerous iterations of the artwork before Jafri and the team decided on the final one.

“After we deliver the art piece to the Moon, it will stay there for ever,” he said, and added that the landing site will become a heritage landmark.

“So, in the future, when someone travels to the Moon and gets to the site, they will be able to see the slate,” Tanasyuk said. “It could be in 30 years or 10. It depends on how fast we get to the Moon.”

Pavlo Tanasyuk from Spacebit speaking at a press conference at Expo 2020 Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National

The exact date of the mission to the Moon was not divulged, but Tanasyuk and Jafri said it was scheduled for the second half of 2022.

In addition to We Rise Together — with the Light of the Moon, five charitable NFTs from Jafri will also be launched to commemorate each stage of the mission: the rocket entering the stratosphere, the circumnavigation of the Earth, the Moon slingshot, the landing and the legacy of the artwork on the Moon.

Jafri said details of the NFT series will be revealed in the future and that they intend to raise funds for charity. However, details on how much money he hopes to raise and which charity organisations would receive the funds were not clarified.

The contemporary artist most recently pulled off one of the art world's greatest feats with the sale of his record-breaking canvas The Journey of Humanity, which was sold for $62 million. The funds were split between Dubai Cares, Unicef, Unesco and Global Gift Foundation.

“We will be focusing on getting the money to the right places in the right areas,” he said. “We will focus on the four main pillars that I see as the main four charitable concerns of our world in the areas of education, health, sustainability and equality for all. If we focus on those four pillars, we can change our world.”

Updated: February 24, 2022, 6:54 AM