Soviet Space Archive: Configuration II

Soviet Space Archive: Configuration II


Participating artists: Rory McCartney and Ella McCartney


Calvert 22 Foundation is delighted to present Soviet Space Archive: Configuration II, a project by artists Rory McCartney and Ella McCartney consisting of a collection of photographs and ephemera dedicated to key moments surrounding Soviet space exploration between 1957–1988.

Instead of defining or displaying a linear history, the exhibition explores how images of significant moments can reflect different perspectives: constructed, replicated and mass-produced.

The archive includes staged, state-issued publicity portraits of cosmonauts, as well as photographs taken by the crew themselves while in orbit. The cosmonauts therefore act as both the photographers and the subjects.

On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel into space. The details of his landing were debated for over a decade after the event. There were different accounts and perspectives about what happened, some believing that the cosmonaut used a parachute to land back on earth rather than landing in the Vostok 1 spacecraft*. The majority of images in Soviet Space Archive: Configuration II once belonged to Ivan Grigoryevich Borisenko, one of the few individuals who witnessed Gagarin’s landing on the Vostok 1 mission.

The exhibition features both public and private photographic documentation. Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space; her image is seen on banners and posters held up by crowd members celebrating in the streets of Moscow during the Vostok 6 mission in 1963. Tereshkova is also shown in training before this space mission; prior to her flight into space, her identity was a closely guarded secret**.

Instead of presenting one definitive perspective, the exhibition celebrates the many ways an archive can be assembled. Each time the archive is presented, it is edited and ordered in different configurations, focusing on a different narrative each time. Elements of the archive have been exhibited previously in Interkosmos, Liquid Courage Gallery, Nassau, Bahamas.

*Slava Gerovitch, 2015, Soviet Space Mythologies (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2015), 34

**Helena Kinnunen, “The First Lady of Space: Valentina Tereshkova”, Helsingin Sanomat, 14 September, 16, 2002

This exhibition has been co-curated by Rory McCartney and Ella McCartney.

Times and Dates

10 – 31 October 2015
Wednesday – Friday, 12pm – 6pm
Saturday, 12pm – 5pm

Private view
Friday 9 October, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

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