Gigantic inflatable sculptures are coming to the ArtScience Museum for its new exhibition, Floating Utopias

Castle of Vooruit (2012) by Ahmet Ogut. Photo: Luca Girardini
Castle of Vooruit (2012) by Ahmet Ogut. Photo: Luca Girardini

Inflatables can bring to mind everything from pool parties to carnivals, but the ArtScience Museum is looking at these objects in a different way for its new exhibition, Floating Utopias. Harking back to the first hot air balloon that took to the skies in the 18th century, the installations span over 40 artworks by more than 15 local and international artists, including the likes of Ant Farm, Marco Barotti, and UFO.

In short, the gallery will explore, in a somewhat playful manner, the social history of inflatable items, in relation to art, architecture, and social activism. Its five chapters will take you through Balloon Fever, Display and Disrupt, Bubble Architecture, Solar Sustainability, and Vertical Exploration.

The journey starts from the past, when ballooning inspired new ways of travel and communication, to today’s artists who use such objects in unorthodox ways for their works, and scientific research than spans beyond Earth and into space. Photographs, documents, and films of old will be showcased in the museum to demonstrate how these inflatables have been used for political purposes as well.

Eyes in the Sky. Photo: Anna Hoetjes
Eyes in the Sky by Anna Hoetjes. Photo: Anna Hoetjes

Even if you’re not quite into the history of inflatables, you’ll likely appreciate the fascinating display of eight massive floating sculptures in the exhibition space, set adrift while suspended in the air, as well as a quirky outdoor installation called “Castle of Vooruit” by Turkish artist Ahmet Öğüt.

Another highlight to look out for is social sculpture “Mirror Barricade,” made with 18 silver reflective inflatable cubes by Tools for Actions, all of which can be gathered to form a barrier. Plus, SurvivaBall by The Yes Men features a series of inflatable suits that advocate a message that’s more serious than they look about humanity’s preparations for potential climate disasters.

 SurvivaBall (2016) by The Yes Men. Photo: Luca Girardini
SurvivaBall by The Yes Men. Photo: Luca Girardini

Famed artist Tomás Saraceno also brings his work to the gallery with “Aerocene Explorer,” a solar-powered flight kit that provokes thought about environmentally-friendly air travel that’s energy independent. And Anna Hoetjes, contemporary visual artist and co-curator of the exhibition adds her perspective on aerospace history with a video installation named “Eyes in the Sky.”

Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. Photo: Luke Jerram
Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. Photo: Luke Jerram

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Moon Landing, ArtScience is also displaying a commissioned inflatable work by UK artist Luke Jerram. “Museum of the Moon” is a 3D moon, 6m in diameter, that hangs from the ceiling with high-res NASA imagery of the lunar surface, allowing visitors to get a close-up look of the ginormous astronomical body.


Floating Utopias is on from May 25-Sept 29 at ArtScience Museum.
Adults $16-$19, children and seniors $12-$14.
MRT: Bayfront

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