Let your imaginations levitate

Floating Utopias is a playful exhibition that showcases the social history and uses of inflatables in arts and architecture, ever since the first hot air balloon ascended into the skies in the 18th century. It’s also a project that delves into the symbolism of political interventions and encourages the symposium around ideologies fueled by pneumatic, material disobedience; if you look hard enough.

The exhibition juxtaposes aesthetics with politics, coming together as a pneumatic contemporary gallery that celebrates the history of activism and ethical discussion. Over 40 artworks take you on a dream-like journey that unfolds via its five chapters—Balloon Fever, Display and Disrupt, Bubble Architecture, Solar Sustainability and Vertical Exploration; an aptly constructed experience that recounts the past balloon-related travels and works its way to the future of plausible space travels.

In a very Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle-esque manner, a dramatic outdoor installation titled Castle of Vooruit takes centrestage. The stupendous floating sculpture in the sky is a large helium balloon that takes the shape of a castle upon the rocks, only anchored by its ropes. The levitating mountainside castle is an interpretation of the Vooruit complex that resides in Ghent, Belgium, and as cartoonish as it appears to be, the structure was chosen for its symbol of the socialist movement during the 1900s.

Another highlight of the exhibition is the Survivaball by The Yes Men, a series of silly inflatable suits with a darker underlying message that may go by unnoticed. Comedy duo-activists The Yes Men are widely known for their satirical documentaries that tackle climate change issues through pranks, at one point even pitching the Survivaball as humanity’s preparation for the worst climate-pertaining disasters.

A towering inflatable structure of the moon commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing in 1969. Measuring six metres in diameter, a high-resolution NASA imagery of the lunar surface is depicted on the sphere for visitors to observe, providing museum-goers with the chance to get that perfect supermoon shot.

If you pay the concept of inflatable objects little thought, this exhibition will astound and inflate your imagination.


Floating Utopias runs from May 25-Sep 29 at the ArtScience Museum. Tickets start from $16. More information available here.