Female Space Pioneer Makes History By Sending Jeff Koons’ Art to the Moon [Interview]

Jeff Koons and Chantelle Baier from 4SPACE

In late February 2024, history was made when the first female-led space company, 4SPACE, took Jeff Koons‘ art to the Moon. The successful launch makes Koons the first artist to have authorized artwork on the lunar surface and everything came together thanks to the vision of 4SPACE founder Chantelle Baier.

Baier founded 4SPACE as a vehicle to bridge non-traditional space companies with the space industry. Under her leadership, 4SPACE has achieved the first authorized art gallery to be sent to the Moon in 2024, a significant milestone in the footprints on the Moon. And it seems fitting that Koons, a pioneer of the contemporary art world, would be the first creative to hold this honor.

Jeff Koons: Moon Phases comprises 125 unique artworks, each consisting of three components: a sculpture that was installed on the Moon, a sculpture that stays on Earth, and an NFT that corresponds with the sculptures on the Moon and the Earth. The 125 miniature stainless steel Moon Phase sculptures are currently displayed on the Moon in a cube, which was designed and built by 4SPACE in consultation with Koons.

“The Moon Phase artworks are associated with individuals who made important accomplishments in human history,” 4SPACE revealed in a written statement. “The list of names is universal, from various cultures throughout the world, fields, and time periods. Displayed in front of each artwork, the names memorialize the figures. In this way, Koons honors some of the greatest achievements of the past to inspire future generations.”

The work made its way into space via the Intuitive Machines Nova-C lunar lander, Odysseus, named after the hero of Homer's Greek epic. The Nova-C is part of NASA's CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative and was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center.

When Odysseus touched down on the lunar surface, it became the first successful U.S. moon landing since Apollo 17 in 1972. And it is the first time that a privately owned spacecraft has successfully landed.

We had a chance to speak with Baier about this momentous occasion and what it means to her, as well as what it took to make this outer space art gallery come to life. Read on for My Modern Met's exclusive interview.

Chantelle Baier Assembling Jeff Koons Art Cube

What sparked your initial love of space?

I was born in the land of the living sky in Canada, where there was no light pollution, and I was surrounded by the vastness of trillions of twinkling stars in the sky. We would spend a lot of time stargazing, so naturally I dreamt of going to the Moon since I was a kid. I began to realize NASA has led to wonderful advancements that help us here on Earth, and I began to learn how important space is for our future. The idea of exploration beyond Earth’s gravity and traveling the Moon and Mars ignited my curiosity to learn more about space and the earth.

Falcon 9 rocket taking off

Photo: David Bellman

What motivated you to start 4SPACE?

I was encouraged by a mentor of mine, Dr. Chris McKay, to set up 4SPACE to hone in on my diverse skillset that ranges from technical knowledge to the entertainment/fashion industry. 4SPACE was set up as a vehicle to bring non-traditional space companies into the space industry. With this non-linear way of thinking, our focus is on commercializing the space industry by incorporating branding, marketing, and outside-of-the-box ways of approaching traditional industries.

Odysseus with the Moon in the Background

What accomplishment are you most proud of since 4SPACE was founded?

We just became the first woman-owned company on the Moon. We also became the first company to place a clear art gallery with Jeff Koons Moon Phases statues on the Moon on board the Intuitive Machines Lunar Lander that successfully landed on February 22, 2024.

Jeff Koons with art cube in front of Odysseus lander

Photo: Chris Farina

How did you become involved in the Jeff Koons project?

In 2021, I contacted a small company that had just won an award from NASA to go to the Moon. Their mission had scientific NASA payloads, and I had an idea for a project to be placed on the Moon. The lunar lander didn’t have enough power for our payload, so I had to redesign a powerless payload. My investor had a great relationship with Jeff Koons' son Sean, and we commissioned him to design 125 statues.

What type of research went into creating the display for his art?

Extensive work in many different areas spanning material research, adhesives that would survive the trip to the Moon, space radiation, lunar environment, and analysis.

Jeff Koons Art Cube Attached to Moon Lander

What type of work went into getting permission to leave something like this on the Moon?

Currently, there aren’t any permissions per se. It is our ethos to think of sustainability, scientific relevance, marketing, commercializing, and the return on investment in a circular way of thinking in every project. We understand the rare opportunity we have, we know these projects will be placed on the Moon and remain there forever, so we want them to have scientific relevance, paired with new ways of marketing, branding, and connecting our everyday lives to the Moon. Our approach is to ensure multiple facets of success in each project that positively support the space industry, NASA objectives, and what’s relevant to our partners whether it be artists, brands, you name it.

Odysseus landing on the Moon

How does it feel to have 4SPACE involved in such a groundbreaking project?

Out of this world. It’s truly an honor to be a part of this historic mission to the Moon and to have had such a cultural impact and footprint.

What do you hope that people take away from this work?

I hope to inspire a new way of thinking. I hope to show the world that you can dream and achieve your goals no matter what challenges you face. I came from very modest roots, and I believe we need to support each other and work together to create a better world here on Earth. Utilizing the new opportunities that the Space Industry has to offer, everyone brings hope to us here on Earth. New ways of exploring that open up new jobs and hopefully a bright future.

If I can take a world famous artist and put his work on the Moon… please take my word, there is a new industry coming and it’s the space industry.

4SPACE: Website

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by 4SPACE.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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