Performing astronomy at an art exhibition

I've always worked in astronomy and space outreach and education. But one of my assignments led to an unusual experience in a completely different field, art.

In 2018 I was hired for an art project at Fondazione Prada, precisely because of my astronomy background.

Fondazione Prada (Prada foundation) is a contemporary art museum and cultural institution in Milan, Italy, where I live. It's a unique and intriguing place, especially for someone like me with no art background. What impressed me most were the architecture and the insightful conversations I had with staff members, such as the room guardians who are usually art or design students.

Between August, 11 and October, 22, 2018 Fondazione Prada run a temporary exhibition by Brazillian artist Laura Lima, Slight Agitation 4/4. It featured an impressive series of room-sized installations, including one named The Telescope. It was a giant scaffholding structure with a lecture space and an actual small telescope.

My job was to do daily performances inside the structure, i.e. ordinary astronomy lectures. Laura Lima advised me to focus and geek out on astronomy, not art.

I talked about the Moon, Mars and the planets, comets, space exploration, and more. This is the whiteboard I used, with my doodles after a lecture on comets and meteors.

Astronomy lecture whiteboard at the Slight Agitation 4/4 exhibit at Fondazione Prada in Milan, Italy.

It was a fun and unique experience the many visitors who attended the lectures seemed to appreciate. I didn't anticipate so much interest and questions in a context where people didn't expect to stumble upon science.

Prada Foundation published a video that shows Slight Agitation 4/4 and the structure where I performed. I'm the guy with sparse hair and glasses handling the telescope at 00:45 and 03:08, and lecturing at the whiteboard at 02:47.


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