Castles in the Air

Castles in the Air

There is always a good reason to move from the centre to the suburbs of Milan to visit Hangar Bicocca, one of the few urban realities seriously involved in furthering contemporary languages.

Entering the huge post-industrial cathedral and crossing the nave, which offers a glimpse on the unique setting created by Carsten Nicolai and Anselm Kiefer’s installations, neatly in a line, you come near to the close space that hosts the latest Tomás Saraceno’s installation.

The Argentine, Saraceno – class 1973, coming from San Miguel of Tucumán – undoubtedly knows about the concept of space. Actually he perfectly knows how to create and order it, how to challenge and match it according to its unexpected forms and evolutions. Being maybe more an architect than an artist, he learned from a mentor such as Peter Cook the necessities of architecture to tend to more radical and utopian shapes and dialogue with the living part of art, and not only with its tradition. For this reason, Saraceno’s artistic alphabet is structured on primary terms that he revisits through a stubborn and scientific study of concepts like shape, space and emptiness.

On Space Time Foam is the latest of these both super complex and simultaneously minimalist constructions, which seems to face off buildings and spaces that host them: going up the scaffold stairs, the visitor gets to an altitude of 20 meters, and once there, he/she can “plunge in” a see-through membrane, suspended in mid-air. A jump, an emotion, an euphoric feeling of lapsing unconsciously into the gravity, but also the bizarre emotion of swimming in a mysterious swimming pool whose surface is influenced by presence, weight and movements of other visitors. Certainly experiencing On Space Time Foam allows you to enjoy the surrounding space in a different way, while on an unconscious level, it helps you to feel tensions and the limits of our body.

An invisible city, a hang structure (made of 99% air) apparently simple, but actually elaborate and stratify, not only from a technical point of view: the three layers that compose the work cover a wide area – almost 1200 square meters – and it has been commissioned to the same firm that works with ESA (European Spatial Agency); but also from a formal/”sculptural” side, along with the conceptual one. Saraceno’s installation is the result of an intense planning work (at the moment 20 people is working at his studio in Berlin), which updates the thousand-year relation between art and science, adding and placing side-by-side the importance of science fictional imagination as a critical element for the Tomás Saraceno’s creations.

Riccardo Conti, Editor’s thanks to Monica Lombardi