• Duration of the Exhibition15. September 2011 - 19. February 2012
  • VenueHamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
  • An exhibition of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, made possible by the Verein der Freunde der Nationalgalerie, and sponsored by the Dornbracht Installation Projects, 2011. Our thanks to the Outset Contemporary Art Fund, London for generously donating the work “Observatory” to the collection of the Nationalgalerie.

Spider webs, soap bubbles, and legendary visionaries like Buckminster Fuller are only some of the sources which have inspired artist Tomás Saraceno, born in 1973. Presented for the first time in the exhibition “Tomás Saraceno. Cloud Cities” between 15 September 2011 and 15 January 2012 at the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart (Museum for Contemporary Art) in Berlin in the framework of the “Dornbracht Installation Projects” is a large installation by this artist which consists of circa 20 works and occupies the entire area of the historic hall.

The artist refers to his works – organic spatial networks, some containing living plants, others suspended in space only with networks of black cables – as “biospheres.” In 2009, with “Galaxies Forming along Filaments, like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider’s Web,” installed at the Venice Biennale, Saraceno tensed his works in space using black cables in a way that was analogous to a spider’s web.

The point of departure for this artist, who initially studied architecture, is an interest in our shared present-day and future environments. With scientific meticulousness, his works pursue the idea of a “realizable utopia.” The experimental approach of “Air-Port-City,” developed continuously by Saraceno over a period of years, exemplifies his method. Inspired by the eponymous “Airport-City” in Frankfurt, where the artist lives and works, Saraceno conceptualizes possible architectonic environments which take the form of cell-style, hovering cities. Saraceno has also created works for public spaces. Beginning in 2007, the “Museo Aero Solar” has flown around the world. This enormous solar balloon, whose skin consists of thousands of used plastic bags, is augmented during each landing by additional plastic bags before – thereby transformed – continuing its journey.

In this instance, the title of the exhibition generates a multifaceted referential space. The concept of the “cloud” is essential to the work of this artist. As a metaphor, the cloud stands for the artistic intention of investigating the significance of territories and boundaries in our contemporary (urban) society and for plumbing the possibilities of developing the human environment in sustainable ways. In this context, space is not delimited by the earth, but is instead extended conceptually by Saraceno all the way into outer space.

More particularly, however, it is Buckminster Fuller’s concept of a “Cloud Nine” (tensegrity sphere) which forms an important conceptual foil for Saraceno’s work. The fantastical architectural utopia “Cloud Nine” takes the form of a freely floating sphere 1.6 kilometers in diameter which serves as a biotope for thousands of members of an extensive, autonomous community. This architectural structure is allowed to flow freely by warming the air in his interior and by the construction of a “tensegrity” structure.

With the exhibition “Cloud Cities” in Hamburger Bahnhof, Tomás Saraceno conceptualizes a three-dimensional vision of a utopian environment which can be entered by visitors, allowing them to experience the way in which a system of individual modules can generate a new, spatial cosmos.