Artist Megan Broadmeadow goes out of this world in new London exhibition
Ascending the stairs of London’s Galeria Melissa on an unseasonably warm June day, you’d never expect to be engulfed in surreal projections of alien dancers and galactic phenomena - but with artist Megan Broadmeadow you never know quite what to expect.
In her latest exhibition, the London-based artist celebrates the story of the Mercury 13 women aviators and would-be astronauts with an immersive installation. Unifying sculpture, sound and visual art, it’s packaged in the artist’s inimitable personal style - her penchant for Technicolor costumes and abstract theatre is well documented - the work is a visual and aural feast that playfully explores the fantastical landscape of outer space, and the human desire to venture into the cosmos.
As the story goes, at the height of the Cold War and with the US-Soviet space race was well under way, several female volunteers underwent the same aerospace tests their male contemporaries had undergone a few years earlier. Of those entered, 13 successfully completed these identical phases of testing as their male counterparts. However, entrants mysteriously began dropping out, and when NASA abruptly cut the process short, the newly-dubbed Mercury 13 - after the Mercury 7 men - were grounded indefinitely, their place in history erased.
A large sculpture of a satellite, dishes pointed to the ceiling (and by extension, the sky), hangs as the central focus of the installation. Around it, vast LED screens broadcast three-dimensional eyes as a direct, almost confrontational adjunct. The concept of space as an infinite expanse is explored through the use of opposing mirrors, while intelligent light projections create the effect of nebulas in bloom.
While the underlying subject matter is a serious one, Broadmeadow intends the work as a tribute to the deserving women who were robbed of the opportunity to fulfil their destinies. ’My aim was to turn things around and make a celebration for them,’ she says. ’There is the idea of [dissatisfaction], but what I decided to do was make a journey that gave them a chance to fly.’