KAWS’ COMPANION takes an out of this world trip, literally

KAWS’ COMPANION takes an out of this world trip, literally
Photo of KAWS: HOLIDAY SPACE, created by KAWS and AllRightsReserved, which sent COMPANION into the stratosphere. Courtesy AllRightsReserved, Ltd.
Leading lights  -   Artists

Looking rather bashful with Earth as his backdrop, COMPANION took a day trip to space. Created by American artist KAWS, who once again teamed up with AllRightsReserved, the metallic sculpture soared above the clouds, 41.5 km from solid ground. So, technically, the work didn’t make it into space but he flew high enough to enter Earth’s stratosphere. Called KAWS: HOLIDAY SPACE, this is the fifth trip COMPANION has taken over the last two years as part of the “KAWS: HOLIDAY” series and marked its 20th anniversary of the character’s creation.

The bubble figure of COMPANION covers his iconic x-eyes with his hands as the sun glints off his metallic surface. Clad in an astronaut suit, KAWS revisited the Moonman COMPANION design that he used in his recreation of the MTV Music Award in 2013.

KAWS: HOLIDAY has previously visited Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Japan but this was the first trip into space. To make his space exploration possible, KAWS and AllRightsReserved fixed the sculpture to a sounding balloon, which lifted COMPANION up over the earth before eventually popping. Before the sculpture tumbled back to Earth’s surface, it spent two hours suspended in the peaceful environment of the stratosphere. Overall, the effort took about eight hours, from lift off to landing, and some incredible images were captured during the voyage.

COMPANION took his grand atmospheric adventure just over a month ago on July 13th and photos and video of the trip were released by the artist and AllRightsReserved a few days ago. Later today, though, you could have the chance to have an astronaut COMPANION for yourself as KAWS is releasing editions of KAWS: HOLIDAY SPACE. At 10 PM EDT, three iterations of the artwork, in metallic gold, silver, and black, will be available to purchase for HK$ 2,980 (£295) through AllRightsReserved.

The idea to send COMPANION out into space came to KAWS as museums and galleries began to close and shows were cancelled due to the pandemic. “So many projects have been cancelled this year. I wanted to create one that could be experienced safely from home,” said KAWS, who also released an AR version of COMPANION in a collaborative project with Acute Art that allowed for a bright spot during the pandemic. “Because this year marks 20 years since I created COMPANION, I tried to find a way around all the restrictions and do something special. I felt so confined the past few months that creating a project like this has really given me a chance to escape.”

KAWS: HOLIDAY SPACE is just one more way that artists have looked for unusual and alternate ways to engage with their audiences during lockdown proving that despite a pandemic, creativity can flourish… even if it isn’t quite on the same scale as going out into the atmosphere.