Installed on the US National Mall in October 2001, Voyage / yogeva is a scale model of the solar system that allows visitors to walk between planets, represented by stanchions that stretch from the Washington Monument to the Capitol Building. Presented as “a community focal point for STEM education”, it also reproduces patriarchal and colonial values by mapping our celestial neighbourhood to the architectural contours of US governance. Amongst other things, its scientifically improbable lining-up of the planets can be read as a metaphor for violent social coercion – “planet” is derived from the Greek “wanderer”, yet here wandering is not permitted. In this exhibit, Evans-Thirwell uses Voyage’s own modelling practices to facilitate resistance to such coercion and a kind of meditative re-engagement, by imposing a scale model of the system on the landscape and inviting participants to compose verse in response to what they discover at each planet’s position.
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell is creating poetry in response to the politics, people and technologies of space exploration from the early 20th century to the present day. His projects include a verse critique of NASA’s Voyager missions and the Golden Record.