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Far From Home
Multimedia performance, 2017

Performance at Club Silencio, Paris, featuring Rhys Chatham and Frank Smith

Far From Home was presented by Silencio and Maison Européenne de la Photographie as part of DANCE WITH ME, curated by Barbara Polla.

Artist’s Notes

While recently in Djibouti, I witnessed Yemeni refugees fleeing the bombing and devastation in Yemen. They risk everything to cross the Gulf of Aden. If they survive the 25 km trip from their homeland, they arrive at Camp Markazi in Obock, a desert tent city subjected to furious sand storms and temperatures of up to 134 degrees.

At the same time, migrant Ethiopians fleeing their country’s oppression and poverty brave a four day walk across the desert of Djibouti. They arrive at Obock to take the same boats back across the Gulf of Aden. They hoped to either stay in Yemen or make their way to Saudi Arabia. With only the clothes on their backs, the Ethiopians don’t all survive the journey. Their water supply often runs out before the desert does. The persistence of hope is endless when traveling far from home.

At the other end of the spectrum of human movement and hope are some researchers in the desert of Southern Utah. Daily, they don spacesuits or “sim suits,” exit the airlock of their habitat, and head off on EVAs to collect data in the hope of someday doing the same on Mars.

The Mars Society has constructed Mars Analogue Research Stations (simulation habitats) here on Earth. We have already sent information collecting robots to Mars and predict that it’s only a matter of time until the first human flight. In preparation for this event, simulation astronaut crews are conducting missions at remote locations here on earth that closely resemble the terrain of the red planet. Mars Desert Research Station is situated on the sweltering, multi-hued San Rafael Swell of southern Utah. Mission crews made up of scientists and engineers from around the world live at this station in complete simulation.

The travel time of a human mission to Mars is estimated between six and nine months, with a two year, two-month interval before it would be possible to return to earth. There are projections for quicker round trips, but with substantially higher energy and cost requirements, they are unlikely. 200,000 people have already signed up to be prospective astronauts for a mission to Mars. The persistence of hope is endless when traveling far from home.


Guitar/Flute composed and performed by Rhys Chatham
Narrator/Dancer: Frank Smith
Djibouti video, Camp Markazi : Hilal Osman
Mars Desert Research Station video: Janet Biggs
MDRS Crew 181: Cassandra Klos, Charlie Rogers, Avishek Gosh, Juan Jose Garcia, Olly Burn, and Janet Biggs
Video Editing: Janet Biggs
Program Design: Robert Cmar



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