With utopian ambition and scientific precision, Tomás Saraceno redefines both the built environment and the role of the artist. Clouds, bubbles, spider webs and other natural structures inspire his spectacular, gravity-defying installations and visionary sculptural models. His projects explore connections between complex social and ecological systems while raising pointed questions about our own relationships to an increasingly fragile natural world.
From September 2011 to January 2012, the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum presented Tomás Saraceno: Cloud-Specific. The exhibition specifically advanced Saraceno’s Air-Port-City (2001–present), a wide-ranging technical and theoretical investigation into the possibility of creating a sustainable city-in-the-sky — one that renders obsolete the very idea of an “environmental footprint.”
“Saraceno effectively transformed the gallery into an investigative laboratory containing models and prototypes as well as inflatable sculptures and documentary video of the artist conducting tests in the field,” says Meredith Malone, exhibition curator at the Kemper Art Museum. “We were thrilled to present his work and to support the production of ambitious new pieces that strikingly synthesize art, architecture, engineering and the natural sciences.”
Saraceno, who was trained as an architect, works with scientists and a range of engineers, chemists, physicists and botanists. He identifies contemporary predicaments — the growing ecological crisis, the social and political effects of globalization — and addresses those challenges at both micro- and macro-scales.
In October 2011, the Kemper Art Museum presented “A Sustainable Future,” an interdisciplinary panel discussion held in conjunction with Saraceno’s exhibition. Moderated by Eric Mumford, professor of architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the discussion explored conceptual concerns raised by Saraceno’s artistic practice.