An Earthquake Strikes Aspen Mays’s Starless Fulbright Fellowship to Chile / Art21

Aspen Mays. “Punched out stars 1,” 2011. Silver gelatin print, unique, 14.5 x 11.25 in. Courtesy the artist.

Aspen Mays traveled to Chile, the astronomy capital of the world, to look at the stars through some of the world’s most advanced telescopes. But over time, the bright stars, possible planets and meteors weren’t actually what interested Mays. Inside Chilean observatories, Mays discovered the stars of yesteryear—those that had already been discovered and documented, printed out on paper, and filed away in archival bins. Besides shifting the scope of her Fulbright fellowship (2009-2010), Mays’s experience changed her creative practice in other more jarring ways—she was affected by an extreme sense of isolation, and an earthquake that shook the country five days after she arrived.

Mays’s original plan was to go to Chile and make work about the experience of stargazing in observatories. But as she’s done with past bodies of work, such as Every Leaf on a Tree andFrom the Offices of Scientists, in which she acts as a cultural anthropologist studying specific structures, she left the project open-ended. For her, this type of approach yields the most productive results.

Read the full post on Art21: