Magazine article Artforum International

Tomas Saraceno: TANYA BONAKDAR GALLERY

Magazine article Artforum International

Tomas Saraceno: TANYA BONAKDAR GALLERY

Article excerpt

The sculptures and collages shown in Tomas Saraceno's recent exhibition belong to a wide-ranging scientific and philosophical project begun in 2002, variously called Cloud Cities and Air-Port-City. At the crux of the undertaking is a speculative metropolis composed of continuously shifting configurations of cell-like modules that float above the earth, the entire process powered by solar energy and wind.

In Tanya Bonakdar's large downstairs space, various arrangements of polyhedrons made from beech plywood or nylon string--representations of the Cloud City's component cells--hung from the gallery ceiling among complex webs of more nylon string that were anchored to the gallery's floor and walls; navigating this floating city required the audience's full attention, as if to underscore our earthbound clumsiness. The polyhedrons are based on the Weaire-Phelan model of an ideal bubble structure, a three-dimensional armature that minimizes surface area and maximizes volume; in other works, Saraceno has drawn on the webs of the black widow spider and the Millenium Simulation, a computerized model used by scientists to investigate the structure of the universe. The ease with which his artistic practice moves among architecture, science, and philosophy recalls the practices of Buckminster Fuller, Archigram, and Gyula Kosice, who designed the otherworldly Hydrospatial City. (In fact, Saraceno studied with Archigram's Peter Cook.) Saraceno's previous knotted works also bring to mind Gego's "Reticulareas," with their scientific precision and echoes of what we perceive as chaos in the natural world.

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The Cloud City proposal is in one sense anarchic, rhizomatic, and revolutionary--Saraceno sees its inhabitants as united by "cloud citizenship" and predicts "a three-dimensional era of social engagement" and a "planetary feeling of belonging. …

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