TRIBECA — A large, shiny Cold-War era satellite has landed in TriBeCa.
The 10-foot diameter mylar balloon on display in the Apexart gallery is a replica of an early model for America’s first “satelloon,” called “Echo 1.”
It’s also a piece of artist and writer Greg Allen’s “Exhibition Space,” a show that explores the early days of the heated space race with a series of scientific, press and amateur images — as well as his crinkly satelloon, a combination satellite and balloon.
Echo, Allen wrote in his artist’s statement, was the country’s reaction to the Soviet Union’s surprise launch of Sputnik — the first satellite to orbit the Earth — on Oct. 4, 1957.
Sputnik left U.S. scientists and officials “freaking out,” Allen wrote — and effectively turbo-charged America’s own space program.
“Echo was a funhouse-mirrored reflection of the reactive, fraught and bombastic political uncertainties of post-Sputnik America,” he wrote.
The reflective sphere in the Church Street gallery is a remake of a prototype for the massive, 100-feet-across satellite launched in 1960, whose primary mission, Allen wrote, was simply to be viewed by populations across the globe — and assert America’s authority and ingenuity in its intense competition with its Russian foe.
Photos of the satelloon, on display in the exhibit, were snapped by people around the world.
The exhibit, on view through May 8, will also host several speakers to delve into aspects of the space race.
On April 23, journalist Joshua Foer — the brother of author Jonathan Safran Foer — will present his visual essay "A Minor History of Giant Spheres," aiming to add context to the inflatable satelloon and the magnetic attraction it has held on visitors.
Exhibition Space runs through May 8 at Apexart gallery, 291 Church St., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. Joshua Foer's Tuesday talk, also free, starts at 6:30 p.m.