Floating Utopias is a playful and poetic exhibition that explores the social history of inflatable objects, showing how, over the decades, they have been used in art, architecture and activism.
Ever since the first hot-air balloon ascended into the skies in the 18th century, inflatable objects have inspired the public's imagination, generating utopian dreams of castles in the sky, floating laboratories and cloud cities. Floating Utopias reveals the impact inflatables continue to have on our collective imagination. The exhibition juxtaposes historical and contemporary works, featuring over 40 artworks by international and local artists, as well as hands-on workshops and interventions in urban space.
Inflatables embody a transformative aspect in themselves: formless bundles of material instantly become voluminous spaces. Their light, mobile and soft qualities entice people to be both dazzled spectators and playful participants.
Floating Utopias shows how inflatable objects have opened up new technological possibilities through history. With the invention of the hot air balloon, humanity was able to leave the confines of the ground for the first time and experience the Earth from above. Floating Utopias explores how this pivotal invention shaped the way we understand the world and our place in it. The exhibition shows how inflatable objects were used the first part of the 20th century, in socialist and capitalist mass parades, and how, in the 1960s, a new generation of architects began using inflatable structures in a search for new approaches to designing space and alternative ways of living. Floating Utopias also explores how inflatable structures can help us rethink our relationship with the environment.
Inflatables invite us to be playful and to reclaim public space; they help to forge communities and promote participation. Their disruptive, ephemeral presence challenges power structures, by reminding us that after all, everything is temporary.
Floating Utopias in Singapore is co-curated by Artúr van Balen, Fabiola Bierhoff and Anna Hoetjes, and the ArtScience Museum team.
Ahmet Öğüt, Albert Tissandier, Anna Hoetjes, Ant Farm, Artúr van Balen, Daniel Vierge, Dawn Ng, Eventstructure Research Group, Franco Mazzucchelli, Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, Gaspard-Étienne Robert, Graham Stevens, Jakob Kaiserer, Jean-Paul Jungmann, José de Miguel Prada Pool, Luigi Rados, Luke Jerram, Momoyo Torimitsu, , Tanero Oki Architects, The Yes Men, Thomas Baldwin, Tomás Saraceno, Tools for Action, UFO