Culture

50 Stellar Photos of Outer Space

For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this weekend, curator Jon Feinstein selected a collection of images capturing deep space fantasies.

by Jon Feinstein
Jul 18 2019, 11:00am

Penelope Umbrico, Still photograph of Everyone’s Moon 2015-11-04 14:22:59, 2015.

This Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Its spectacle is cause for celebration, and it's featured in dozens of exhibitions ranging from photography-based Apollo's Muse: The Moon in the Age of Photography curated by Mia Fineman at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and By The Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs at the National Gallery, to the memorabilia-focused traveling exhibition Destination Moon at the Museum of Flight outside of Seattle. After curating my own low-fi exhibition Deep Space Laundry, up through the end of July at Washer Dryer Projects—a laundry room basement gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah—it seemed fitting to bring the participating artists (and a few others) together into a visual feature on outer space.

The majority of the artists shown here use photography to approach outer space through cultural and media-soaked representations of the interstellar. Some artists, like Amelia Bauer and Cassandra Klos, use desert landscapes as stand-ins for imagined territories you might see in films like Star Trek, Flash Gordon, or The Martian. While it might look like Mars, it's just some rocky terrain in New Mexico or Utah. Similarly, Joy Drury Cox’s photos of oil stains on parking lot concrete resemble the surface of the moon. Artists Azikiwe Mohammed, Djeneba Aduayom, and Jacque Njeri reference Afro-futurist movements extending from the early 1990s through today's Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther and beyond, which see African Diaspora and liberation through a lens of science fiction and technology. And then there's the absurdism of Jacob Haupt's hilariously cartoonish and obviously faked image of a spandex-clad "astronaut" being shot into space while giving the thumbs up.

Others, like Penelope Umbrico, whose work is also included in the exhibition at The Met, use space photography—specifically amateur images of the sun and the moon appropriated from Flickr and assembled together in large scale grids—to understand universal themes that unite people around the world. While this collection of images is unlikely to unlock the secrets of the galaxy, the future of space travel, or how to discern a certain president's May, 2019 tweet that the moon is part of Mars, it serves as an entertaining and sometimes critical extension into what lies above and beyond.

You can to explore these artists' work deeper by visiting their websites and Instagram feeds, which are linked below.

1563211319022-01_Ana_Samoylova_Blood-Moon-16x20
Anastasia Samoylova, "Blood Moon"
1563211390834-02_Kat_Kiernan_Aurora_VICE
Kat Kiernan, "Aurora"
1563211399686-03_Bill-Finger_StarsLookDifferent
Bill Finger, "Stars Look Different"
1563211411459-04_barry-w-hughes-neop-untitled-01_14x14
Barry W Hughes
1563211755655-05_Serrah_Russell_She_Cried_For_Stars_She_Had_Never_Seen_2012_14x17
Serrah Russell, "She Cried For Stars She Had Never Seen"
1563211766585-06_Julie_Rene_Jones_The-other-side
Julie Rene Jones, "The Other Side"
1563220179470-07_Djeneba-Aduayom-22Capsulated-7-22-courtesy-of-Galerie-number-8
Djeneba Aduayom, " Capsulated 7" Courtesy of Galerie Number 8
1563211787081-08_Harold_Diaz_
Harold Diaz
1563211797551-09_CodyCobb_DarkSide-2
Cody Cobb, "Dark Side"
1563211806989-10_Anastasia_Samoylova_Star-Trails
Anastasia Samoylova, "Star Trails"
1563211816910-11_Lori-Nix-and-Kathleen-Gerber-Space-Center-2013-Archival-pigment-print-Courtesy-of-ClampArt-New-York-City
Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber, “Space Center,” 2013, Archival pigment print, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City"
1563211873999-12_Lauren_Orchowski_05
Lauren Orchowski
1563211886172-13_Bill_Finger_LEM
Bill Finger
1563211902141-14_Sadie_Wechsler_FrightNight
Sadie Wechsler, "Fright Night"
1563211913071-15_Harold_Diaz_boy-light1_12x18_
Harold Diaz, "Boy Light"
1563211951123-16_Roxana_Azar_Eclipse2_2019_16x24
Roxana Azar, "Eclipse 2"
1563212046155-17_Penelope-Umbrico_541795_Suns-From-Sunsets-from-Flickr_Partial_-012306_2006_Courtesy_Bruce-Silverstein-Gallery_New-York
Penelope Umbrico, "5,377,183 Suns from Sunsets from Flickr (Partial) 04/28/09," 2009 Courtesy the artist, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
1563212057097-18_Penelope_Umbrico
Penelope Umbrico, "Still photograph of Everyone’s Moon 2015-11-04 14:22:59, 2015"
1563212068403-19_Azikiwe_Mohammed_03
Azikiwe Mohammed
1563212079208-20_Jesse_Rieser
Jesse Rieser, "The Star Geezers"
1563215477341-21_Azikiwe_Mohammed_01
Azikiwe Mohammed
1563212103188-22_AmeliaBauer_ExtraTerrestrial_01
Amelia Bauer, "Extra Terrestrial"
1563212122463-23_Azikiwe_Mohammed_02
Azikiwe Mohammed
1563212141129-24_Joy_Drury_Cox
Joy Drury Cox
1563212160277-25_Serrah_Russell_2017-2-17-H-edit-Make-your-own-horizon-line
Serrah Russell, "Make your horizon line"
1563212178141-26_Catharine_Maloney_05
Catharine Maloney
1563212229466-27_Jacob_Haupt_4-vice-space
Jacob Haupt
1563212239436-28_Drew_Nikonowicz_11x14
Drew Nikonowicz
1563212257330-29_Jacob_Haupt_3-vice-space
Jacob Haupt
1563212283886-30_Roxana_Azar_DSC7177
Roxana Azar
1563212307711-31_Catharine_Maloney_01
Catharine Maloney
1563212447863-Karl_Baden
Karl Baden
1563212498133-32_Cassandra_Klos
Cassandra Klos
1563212510746-33_AmeliaBauer_Moonscapes_02
Amelia Bauer, "Moonscapes"
1563212534918-34_Julia_Bradshaw_Unamed_11x11
Julia Bradshaw
1563212545320-35_DjenebaAduayom_Capsulated-series_16x20
Djeneba Aduayom, " Capsulated courtesy of Galerie Number 12"
1563220417779-36_Julia_Bradshaw_GRB_130472BC_10x14
Julia Bradshaw, "GRB 130472BC"
1563212562037-37_Jacob_Haupt_6-vice-space
Jacob Haupt
1563212574440-38_Christine-Lorenz_salt-6833-Lorenz
Christine Lorenz, "Salt 6833"
1563212584743-39_Jacque-Njeri
Jacque Njeri
1563212598133-40_Drew_Nikonowicz
Drew Nikonowicz
1563212619496-41_Jacob_Haupt_2-vice-space
Jacob Haupt
1563212670312-42_Qicong_Lin_spacecliper_16x20_
Qicong Lin, "Space Clipper"
1563212696483-43_Sadie_Wechsler_T0000054
Sadie Wechsler
1563212706786-44_SamMargevicius_OuterSpace_01
Sam Margevicius
1563212722745-45_Anastasia_Samoylova_Nebulae-Composite
Anastasia Samoylova, "Nebulae Composite"
1563212749650-46_Cassandra_Klos2
Cassandra Klos
1563212791721-Vanessa_Marsh_Nebula-16
Vanessa Marsh, "Nebula 16"
1563212807940-49_Qicong_Lin_IMG_0004j
Qicong Lin
1563212821155-50_Betsy_Kenyon_TWISTED-SPACE-SEPARATION_16x20
Betsy Kenyon, "Twisted space separation"

Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.

Follow Jon Feinstein on Instagram.