Tomás Saraceno’s Cloud City
September 22, 2011
French architect and balloon enthusiast Gilles Ebersolt once said, “I like to go boating. Why should sailing only be accessible to sailors?” Ebersolt’s wistful dreams led him to devote his career to the exploration of pneumatic architectures and inflatable environments. He would find a kindred soul, then, in the artist Tomás Saraceno, whose work similarly investigates new spatial and cultural modules for living. For his new installation at the Hamburger Bahnhof (no, it’s not the burger eating competition you’re thinking), Saraceno has created a utopic world of inflatable domes and levitating gardens. More after the jump!
Saraceno’s exhibit, entitled “Cloud Cities,” consists of twenty bubbles suspended in the Bahnhof’s hangar. Many of the spheres are large enough to be entered by visitors, who will surely delight in bouncing on the transparent floors. A criss-crossing network of cables keeps the giant balloons aloft, while shrunken, seemingly deflated bubbles line the floor below. In this surreal scene, bodies float in the air, trapped within the gravity-less confines of the artist’s inflatable structures.
In the manner of Renaissance artists, Saraceno, who was trained as an architect, threads his diverse interests throughout the conceptual and physical fabric of his work, and it’s possible to pick out the myriad influences in his bubbles. Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic domes first come to mind, followed by the ludenic visions of the architectural collectives of the 1960s, such as Archigram and Ant Farm. There’s also the fanciful translation of natural micro-structures, such as soap bubbles and spider webs, and hints of mathematical mysticism, like principles of harmonious proportion and governing systems. Given these cross-disciplinary considerations, Saraceno’s work attains a sociopolitical dimension which seeks to challenge and change the way we live in a world of limited resources but unlimited creative potential.