Mary Voorhees Meehan

This is a Present from a Small Distant World

  • The spaceship's outer walls are lined with an alphabetized list of the contents of the Golden Record.

    This is a Present from a Small Distant World was on view at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art June 9-October 7 2012.
  • Supplies we need for working.
  • Nadia Sirota performs In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves at the opening.
  • Luke and Jon interviewed some of their students about space, if they want to go there, what they would take, if they would go alone, who and what they would miss, who would miss them, who they would hope to meet, and what inedible crops they would plant.

    Neil and I designed newspapers with these interviews and portraits of the students. We also reprinted the questions real real big and lined the walls of our spaceship with the papers so that passersthrough could leave their answers.
  • It started with the need for a place to work together, so that we could make something. We needed a spaceship, thought Luke. Lots of thinking about space and the things with which we must outfit our ship ensued. Later, much later, we started thinking about those for whom we were making. Us? Others? Will they understand us? Are they nearby?

    In the course of our dig—cut to clip of dogs pawing at loose soil and kicking up boots and fossils and shovels and woe begotten bicycle pedals; cut to archeologists; no, no, back to the dogs—Neil brought up the Golden Record. Suddenly our list of supplies for our work vessel, space faring or no, seemed more apt a presentation of our enterprise than a physical manifestation of that enterprise (far more costly and time intensive). 

    So, we decided to build a spaceship. A wooden one. It is really something between an attic and a ship—a spaceship-attic. It doesn't move, though we could make it move if that was really important. It's easier for people to move through it. And that is just as well. 

    For what we are after is a time capsule—a vessel for outward optimism, inward melancholy, the people and things to which emotions are fixed and where those things are kept. We built a wooden room to hold it all and convey it to another time and place, whence reading will remind us back to this time, ourselves our audience, always.

    In collaboration with Neil Donnelly, New Catalogue, and Judd Greenstein. Nadia Sirota on viola. Thank you to The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • People had a lot of good things to say. One of my favorites: Someone answered WHO WOULD YOU WANT AN ALIEN TO HAVE DINNER WITH? —Will Smith.
  • P.S. Installation can be fun. Thanks SMOCA! Thanks Scottsdale! Thanks crew!