From monster rabbits to moon-bathing: inflatables on parade at the ArtScience Museum

The Floating Utopias exhibition at the ArtScience Museum is curated by (from left) Anna Hoetjes, Fabiola Bierhoff and Artúr van Balen from the Floating Utopias Foundation, a collective started in Amsterdam by a group of artists and curators.
The Floating Utopias exhibition at the ArtScience Museum is curated by (from left) Anna Hoetjes, Fabiola Bierhoff and Artúr van Balen from the Floating Utopias Foundation, a collective started in Amsterdam by a group of artists and curators.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Giant bunnies and a spectral moon are among the large inflatable artworks that will be on display at the ArtScience Museum from Saturday (May 25) onwards - as part of the Floating Utopias exhibition which looks at how inflatable objects have been used in art, architecture and social activism over the years.

The eight inflatables featured are by international names such as British artist Luke Jerram.

Also on display are film installations and numerous prints on paper. They shed light on the fascination with ballooning in 18th century Europe, the use of inflatables for state propaganda and social activism alike two centuries down the road, and the role they play in exploring ideas related to mobile architecture and sustainability.

One of the larger-than-life inflatables on show is Momoyo Torimitsu's Somehow, I Don't Feel Comfortable (2000) - featuring two grinning rabbits whose ears graze the gallery panel above. The uncanny creatures are a reference to small apartments in Japan, which have been mockingly described as "rabbit hutches".

Then there is Museo Aero Solar, a showcase by acclaimed Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno who is known for his aerial sculptures. It comes with a "workshop" space where visitors can cut their used plastic bags to size and help create a giant patchwork balloon. The balloon will be powered by the sun's heat and launched at a later date.

The four-month exhibition is curated by Artúr van Balen, Fabiola Bierhoff and Anna Hoetjes from the Floating Utopias Foundation, a collective that was started in Amsterdam by a group of artists and curators. It is organised by ArtScience Museum and the Foundation in collaboration with the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, a German art association.

People can also look forward to performances, workshops and guided tours.

Two nocturnal performances will run at the Marina Bay waterfront promenade on Saturday (May 25). Students and alumni from Lasalle College of the Arts - and members of the public - will strap on red phallic-shaped "backpacks" that have been inflated and illuminated with lights that can flash on and off, sending coded signals between them.

"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," says the ArtScience Museum's executive director Honor Harger.

"This exhibition combines play, poetry and politics to explore the artistic and scientific story of inflatables... Taken together, the artworks and artefacts in the show reveal the impact inflatables continue have on our collective consciousness."

Floating Utopias runs from Saturday (May 25) till Sept 29. Catch the Signals 2.0 performances at the Marina Bay waterfront promenade on Saturday (May 25) at 8.30pm and 9.30pm. Visit https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html for more information