Trained as an architect, Argentinean Tomás Saraceno (born San Miguel de Tucumán, 1973) is an artist striving to create tangible utopias. Active in Berlin, he worked for more than ten years on consolidating his futuristic project Aerocene: a terrestrial world punctuated by the floating movements of its inhabitants, effected without fuel, simply through the differences in temperature between masses of air and the interiors of atmospheric sculptures. This eco-conscious dream, this pact with Earth, this ethical compromise, is conceived as an alternative to the Anthropocene, defined in 1995 by Paul Crutzen, recipient of that year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry, as the era in which the planet is shaped by anthropic activities.
Saraceno’s art stands between the heritage of American Land Art and the kinetic tendency identified by the anthropologist Scott Bukatman in his 2003 book Matters of Gravity. The influence of Land Art is apparent in Saraceno’s use of his resources, whether colossal or modest (and sometimes with the support of MIT), both in the heavenly vault and in the wilderness. In the spirit of James Turrell’s Roden Crater, Saraceno has worked on Salar d’Uyuni in Bolivia, a salt plateau that reflects the sky like a mirror when it is covered with water. From this suspended vision, without a horizon, without top or bottom, Saraceno imagines a floating state in the form of Cloud Cities, habitable plastic bubbles of varying sizes. Their honeycomb structure recalls the geodesic dome designed by Richard Buckminster Fuller, now a New Age icon and symbol of a period that had faith in new technologies. In contrast, on November 8, 2015, Saraceno staged a performance worthy of Land Art: a sky work in which an individual floated up, borne aloft by the heat of one of the bubbles in the sky of New Mexico, at the very place where NASA carried out its first atomic test, seventy years earlier.
With Saraceno, suspension is thus a way of being in the world. Flying microcosms recall Carsten Höller’s spatiodynamic slides. Together, viewers experience a thousand gravitational thrills within a “relational aesthetic” (to quote Nicolas Bourriaud). In Milan in 2012, his mobile sculpture Zonal Harmonic 1N 150/9 had the importance of a manifesto. It presented and represented a conception of utopia as a scaled-down cosmos, woven from connections between orbital trajectories. Sewing thread, fishing line, and ropes outline a constructivist figure strongly reminiscent of Alexander Rodchenko’s Spatial Construction No. 12 (1920), another historical work that embodies a futuristic ideology.
- Pauline Mari From the book 'Suspension', by Matthieu Poirier, published by Olivier Malingue Ltd and Skira, Paris, 2018. Book available to purchase from the gallery for £35.
Esther Schipper Gallery, Berlin Private collection.
London, Olivier Malingue, Suspension – A History of Abstract Hanging Sculpture 1918–2018, 1 October - 15 December 2018, p. 173, reproduced in colour p. 172.