Off the Wall: Clarissa Tossin, The 8th Continent

Site-specific installation

September 24, 2021 - August 27, 2022
Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion
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The third installation of the Moody Center for the Arts’ Off the Wall series at the Brochstein Pavilion is The 8th Continent by Clarissa Tossin.

Working closely with Rice’s Space Institute and Houston’s Lunar and Planetary Institute, Tossin sourced NASA images of the Moon mapped to guide future exploration of its poles. The permanently shadowed craters found at these locations are suspected to be sites for the extraction of lunar ice water, which can be used in the production of rocket fuel.  Tossin's triptych repurposes these images as a series of tapestries enriched with metallic thread, a historic reference to the ostentatious presentation of power and wealth used by Medieval and Renaissance rulers to broadcast their might.

The work signals additional historical milestones that impact the colonization of the moon. The 1979 Moon Agreement adopted by the UN General Assembly affirms that the environment of the Moon and other celestial bodies “should not be disrupted,” and natural resources are the “common heritage of mankind,” thus forbidding individual nations from claiming rights to the moon. Through a loophole introduced by a 2015 law, however, private US-based companies are now able to assert rights to mine the Moon and other natural resources in space. Tossin’s work considers this extractive impulse in light of the Earth’s diminishing resources.

As a tool long-used to define and promote nationalist power, mapmaking is re-contextualized in The 8th Continent through a contemporary lens, questioning attempts by twenty-first-century nation-states to expand into and control territories in space.

Off the Wall: Clarissa Tossin, The 8th Continent is curated by Ylinka Barotto, Associate Curator, Moody Center for the Arts.

This program is made possible through the generosity of Raymond and Susan Brochstein, Deborah Brochstein, and Steven Hecht.

About the Artist

Los Angeles-based, Brazilian artist Clarissa Tossin uses video, installation, sculpture, and collaborative research to engage unacknowledged narratives that shape human-made environments. Often centering on the pervasive forces of economic growth—from colonization to mass manufacturing and urban expansion—Tossin’s work challenges traditional hierarchies as they are reflected in material culture in order to reframe dominant discourses.

Tossin has had recent solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Mulhouse, France; the Harvard Radcliffe Institute; and at the Blanton Museum of Art. Her work has also been exhibited at the 12th Gwangju Biennale in Gwangju, South Korea; Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh; the Hammer Museum Biennial, Los Angeles; the Whitney Museum, New York. She is the recipient of grants from Foundation for Contemporary Arts; Graham Foundation; Artadia Los Angeles; among others.

The Off the Wall series is a partnership between the Rice Public Art program and the Core Residency Program at the Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The series commissions Core Residency Program alumni to create site-specific installations for this space. The 8th Continent will be on view for one year.