NAJMA (She Placed One Thousand Suns Over the Transparent Overlays of Space)
Elyseria is a 25th century female astronaut – a fictive character, imagined by Lita Albuquerque – with a mission to teach about the stars and their related fields of astronomy and navigation. The story begins with her arrival on the planet in the year 6000 BC, when she immediately loses sight of her objective. As she struggles to remember, she reconnects with a mysterious group called the Star Keepers, the guardians of the stars.
Albuquerque had the idea of Elyseria many years ago and has told the story in a series of vignettes – massive installations of the figure set in distinctive locales across the world. Each place becomes a stage set where the narrative of light, the stars, and collective knowledge is explored and evolved into a character myth. She creates Elyseria in striking ultramarine blue pigment that is reminiscent of the expanse of the cosmos, embodying the mythic figure as a way of welcoming her wisdom and her story.
NAJMA (She Placed One Thousand Suns Over the Transparent Overlays of Space) is a continuation of Albuquerque’s projects in the great deserts of the world. For the artist, deserts are places to listen and connect to the rich history of celestial traditions. Here, the narrative of the mythical astronaut Elyseria’s teaching brings her to the year 2020. We are invited to walk through a field of stars, their exact patterning and alignment particular to AlUla and the moment of the exhibition.
This installation continues to document generations of human consciousness and wisdom through the science of astronomy. A gift that gives an understanding of the cosmos, it first flowered in this part of the world and provides constant guidance in both ordinal and celestial dimensions.
The narrative is particularly potent here in AlUla, with the region’s long connection to astronomy. The sculpture sits atop a bolder in the hidden valley, amid a special arrangement that reflects the alignment of stars overhead on January 31, 2020, at the exact moment of the opening ceremony, at 26.5503 degrees N, 37.9679 degrees E.