• Tomás Saraceno, Flying Garden/Air-Port-City/12SW iridescent, 2008,
    PVC balloons, elastic rope, fabric webbing, balloon cluster, approximately 45 x 45 x 45".

    Tomás Saraceno

    Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston
    120 Fine Arts Building
    January 6–April 3, 2009

    Walker Art Center
    725 Vineland Place
    May 14–August 30, 2009

    Curated by Yasmil Raymond

    Pneumatic dreams hover over the work of Tomás Saraceno, just as they wafted through the hot-air balloons of the frères Montgolfier or the late-1960s inflatable architecture of the Utopie group. But if it seems that all we got from such techno-futurism was puffy IKEA chairs, Saraceno won’t let the bubble burst. His airborne structures and blow-up sculptures are actually prototypes for floating gardens or houses. Such constructions—along with photographs, drawings, and a new installation for the Walker’s terrace—are the focus of “Lighter than Air,” the artist's second solo US museum show (the first being at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive in 2007). Other pieces in the exhibition, such as 59 steps to be on air by sun power/Do it yourself, 2003, a set of simple instructions for making a solar-powered balloon, are more Mad Max than Bucky Fuller—rerouting utopian fantasies rather than merely fulfilling them.