Floating UtopiasFloating Utopias

Floating Utopias

25 May 2019 – 29 Sep 2019

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.

Highlights
Exhibition & Programmes
Engaging the Community

Signals 2.0

As part of the opening programmes for Floating Utopias on 25 May 2019, ArtScience Museum engaged the public in Signals 2.0, a site-specific experimental performance, which took place at the Marina Bay waterfront promenade.

Specially developed by Tomás Espinosa and Artúr van Balen from the artist group, Tools for Action, in collaboration with the choreographer Susan Sentler, this unique nocturnal performance explores new forms of public assembly and collective communication using 22 portable inflatable light sculptures. Students and alumni of LASALLE College of the Arts School of Dance and Theatre and McNally School of Fine Arts will communicate with each other through these wearable light sculptures.

About the Partners
The exhibition is organized by ArtScience Museum and Floating Utopias Foundation in collaboration with the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst

nGbK logo

neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK)

The exhibition Floating Utopias was originally developed and exhibited by the Floating Utopias project group at the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbK) in Berlin in 2018. The nGbK was founded in 1969 as an art organization with a grass-roots structure. Today it’s one of Germany’s most significant and largest art societies. The unique structure of the nGbK enables its members to directly influence its thematic orientation: exhibitions, research projects, event series and publications are developed in interdisciplinary project groups and supervised from the initial idea to the final implementation. 

Floating Utopias Logo

Stichting Floating Utopias

In order to allow the exhibition Floating Utopias to embark on a global tour, Stichting Floating Utopias (SFU) was brought to life in 2018 in Amsterdam by a group of artists and curators. The foundation aims to underline the unique and underexposed social impact of inflatables. With a traveling exhibition, educational projects and a growing archive, SFU brings to light the cultural history and innovative power of inflatable art, architecture & design.

The original exhibition was curated by Artúr van Balen, Fabiola Bierhoff, Alexander Dunst, Anna Hoetjes, Jantien Roozenburg and Hannah Zindel. Today SFU's projects and exhibitions are developed and carried out by Artúr van Balen, Fabiola Bierhoff and Anna Hoetjes.