Object and Text Video, 2009, 5:37 min, loop


MARS RECOVERY includes videos, photographs and objects orbiting around the once dead, but now reanimated fantasy of the conquest of planet Mars. After the failure of three US-American movies from 2000/2001 (Mission to Mars, Red Planet and Ghosts of Mars) the subject “Mars” has become a taboo in Hollywood, one that even George W. Bush’s multi-million Mars program in 2004 couldn’t avoid. Together with the consciousness of global climatic and financial crises, the red planet conceived as a possible destination for human beings re-appears in the media. Both in the arctic and the desert of Utah, members of the Mars society already prepare their emigration, the American Internet-Billionaire Elon Musk works on his own Mars rocket and a German privately financed balloon is sent to Mars.

Mars Recovery (Postcard A6)

Mars Recovery (Postcard A6)

A shareholder-based and privately subsidized occupation of the planet is discussed in current publications including topics such as the planting of vegetation on Mars using methods of terraforming. But the Utopian idea remains refracted: none of the recent cinematic narratives include successful missions to Mars; if they had, critics might have decried the lack of suspense and narrative boredom. Two of the flops from 2000 include the murder of the crew and, in the third, evil spirits of first-wave inhabitants revenge their displacement on the newer earthly emigrants, involuntary activating American trauma and guilt.

On the first floor of the gallery, Melhus shows a MARS-neon sign and a textual projection, as well as portraits of hypothetical survivors of the three failed Mars movies, represented by Melhus himself. His video work quotes visual and acoustical phrases and pulls them together into a new context. While his 12-channel installation in the lower-level gallery aurally demonstrates the essence of a steady outer space search-and-rescue effort, the projection illustrates romantic images of the planet’s landscape, occupied by pioneers from Earth. Human beings and nature are brought together into an idyllic unit, while simultaneously evoking negative connotations about another controlled and conquered environment.

(from PR of Andreas Grimm gallery, 2009)

Installation Views:

Text Video Stills:

Additional Image:

MARS RECOVERY, Setphoto, Photo: Bjørn Melhus

MARS RECOVERY, Setphoto, Photo: Bjørn Melhus

Production Team:

Concept, Performance, Costume, Make-up, Editing, Production: Bjørn Melhus
Production Assistance & Photography: Yuki Jungesblut


synchronised 2 channel video, 2009/2011, size variable

(combining MARS RECOVERY Text Video and SCENERY MARS via two synchronized channels)

The 2 channel video installation MARS RECOVERY – redux is derived from MARS RECOVERY combining “Mars Text Video” with “Scenery Mars”.  SCENERY MARS revisits the scenery of Mars as imagined in three financially disastrous films about Mars all from the year 2000/2001 whereas MARS TEXT VIDEO quotes from Ron Pisaturo (Capitalism Magazine) and Robert Zubrin (The Case of Mars). In reviving a dormant utopian model with new headlines the exchange of our planet is at stake as well as the restart of a whole society all exclusively on the model of neoliberal capitalism. It remains for discussion what this really means.


Normally MARS TEXT VIDEO is presented on a 4:3 video cube and SCENERY MARS as projection.