Marketing in space has a surprisingly extensive history, even though the desire to see space commercialised is hotly debated. Whilst I'm not sure I can get behind private advertising under the guise of scientific research, sending something to space as a publicity stunt is still a novelty that I embrace. Going as far back as the pizza hut delivery in 2000 and to the more recent 2018 launch of a Tesla in space, 2020 marks the year that my favourite artist sent one of his figures on a brief meander through the stratosphere. I don't even want to imagine how much that burnt little guy is going to sell for if he goes to auction.
In what I think is the ultimate location for the KAWS:HOLIDAY series, KAWS' newest colloboration with All Rights Reserved (a Hong Kong based creative studio) sees his astronaut companion sent into the stratosphere. KAWS is a contemporary artist and designer known for his creation of the companion (a mickey mouse-esque character with a skull for a head and crosses for eyes), and a distinctive style that spans the 2D and 3D worlds. From graffiti to graphic design to colossal sculptures, KAWS is an artist that keeps you on your toes and continues to inspire and awe 30 years into his career.
Beginning in Seoul in 2018, KAWS:HOLIDAY is a series which sees the artist's most recognisable figure turn inflatable and pop up in locations across Asia. To date, there have been four earth-bound rollouts: Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Japan. Seoul and Hong Kong were visited by a floating companion figure measuring a colossal 28 meters long drifting in the Seokchon Lake and Victoria Harbour respectively. Taipei and Japan saw a reinvention of the series and were presented with companions reclining at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and at the base of Mt. Fuji.
KAWS:HOLIDAY (Taipei, Japan, Hong Kong, Seoul) photos courtesy of All Rights Reserved
Unfortunately the complete balls-up that has been the year 2020 put an abrupt stop to this moving installation series. In a climate where international travel is restricted and public gatherings are controlled, pop up art within the public space is at best a serious health hazard and at worst deadly. However this led to (in my opinion) the coolest and most interesting installation yet: the companions trip to space. With many projects cancelled and this year marking 20 years since the artist created the companion, KAWS "wanted to create one that could be safely experienced from home.. I tried to find a way around all the restrictions and to something special."
KAWS:HOLIDAY (space) photos courtesy of All Rights Reserved
The space edition of KAWS:HOLIDAY was a redesign of the moonman figure that KAWS created for the MTV music awards in 2013. At 30cm, this guy was much smaller in size than the other HOLIDAY series works and is actually a collectible made exclusively available from All Rights Reserved's DDT store. As you can imagine the collection sold out immediately. The companion was made from a reflective gold surface that had the effect of taking on the environment around it. Bouncing off the light of the sun, the companion created a dazzling and extraordinary visual.
Mounted on a sounding balloon, the entire journey was documented on a 360-degree panoramic camera. Before popping and plummeting 41.5km back down to earth, the companion was recorded chilling on a 2 hour zero-gravity space walk. The final result was an art-work that was a ridiculously cool artistic response to the current social-distancing climate.
You can watch the little astronauts journey into the stratosphere on allrightreserved's instagram: