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Tomás Saraceno. Cloud Cities

Around 20 of his "biospheres", presented for the first time together at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin.
Nov 2011

Spider webs, the consistency of soap bubbles, astrophysics, and legendary visionaries like Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983) [1] are some of the most important sources of inspiration to the artist Tomás Saraceno, who was born in 1973 in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina. He calls his balloon-like objects "biospheres," [2] that is, "spaces containing life"; held by black rope nets and suspended in the air, some of them are accessible to viewers and some of them are inhabited by plants. The exhibition Tomás Saraceno. Cloud Cities at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin presents a large installation by the artist that occupies the entire space of the historical gallery.

Around twenty of Saraceno’s biosphere works are presented together for the first time, revealing a variety of forms of artistic expression throughout the artist’s previous work. Along with viewer-accessible environments such as Observatory, Air-Port-City (2008), visitors can experience sculptural modules including Biosphere 05 and <emphasize>Biosphere 06</emphasize>, which resemble flying gardens, as well as <emphasize>Large Iridescent Planet</emphasize> (2009), an object covered in iridescent foil. Saraceno’s works enthusiastically pursue the notion of an "realizable utopia." In this respect, the experimental approach of <emphasize>Air-Port-City</emphasize>, which the artist has continually developed over a period of several years, is exemplary. The concept is inspired by the eponymous Airport City in Frankfurt, where the artist lives and works. In this work, Tomás Saraceno proposes cell-like flying cities as possible architectonic living spaces in direct reference to Buckminster Fuller’s <emphasize>Cloud Nine</emphasize> (circa 1960). The fantastic architectural utopia <emphasize>Cloud Nine</emphasize> consists of a freely floating sphere measuring one mile in diameter that offers living space to several autonomous communities encompassing thousands of inhabitants each. [3]

… The notion of the cloud is essential to the artist’s work. The cloud as metaphor stands for artistic intention, for the meaning of territory and border in today’s (urban) society, and for exploring possibilities for the sustainable development of the human living environment. [4] In Saraceno’s work … this environment is not limited to the earth, but is explicitly conceived to reach into outer space.

The artist’s works, which incorporate tendencies in science and architecture and, as works of art, explicitly implement natural principles in order to address immediate problems in our globalized world such as overpopulation, environmental pollution, and diminishing resources, are highly contemporary visions that embody current and potential discourses on the relationship between nature and society.

In his exhibition Cloud Cities at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin, Tomás Saraceno sketches the three-dimensional vision of a future world that visitors can enter to experience how, in a manner analogous to nature, a system of individual modules can create its own new galaxy.

Extract from the text:
Biomimetic Constructions
On the works of Tomás Saraceno
By Katharina Schlüter
Assistant Curator at Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin
Published in:
Tomás Saraceno. Cloud Cities
Installations—Between Science and Art
DISTANZ Verlag Berlin, 2011
256 pages, aprox. 180 colour images
Price: 39,30 euros
ISBN: 978-3-942405-37-9

  1. See: Richard Buckminster Fuller at Bullukian Foundation. Special by Universes in Universe about the 11th Biennale de Lyon, 2011.
  2. Sloterdijk’s philosophy of "spheres," in which the sphere operates as the basic molecule of human history, can be considered a wider frame of reference for Saraceno’s "Biospheres." Cf. Peter Sloterdijk, Sphären, 3 vol., Frankfurt am Main 2004.
  3. The free floating of the architecture was made possible by the phenomenon of air warming and by the construction of a "tensegrity" structure. The term "tensegrity" is a combination of the words tension and integrity. It refers to the invention of a stable rod construction by Richard Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson in which the struts, connected solely through cables, do not touch one another.
  4. Cf. exhibition announcement for Tomás Saraceno. Im Rahmen des Zyklus Habiter at the Mudam Luxembourg 2010

© Text: Organizer / Publisher

Tomás Saraceno
Cloud Cities

15 September 2011 -
19 February 2012

Hamburger Bahnhof
Invalidenstr. 50-51
10557 Berlin
Website / Email

Curator: Britta Schmitz
Curatorial assistance:
Katharina Schlüter

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