Forget doomy “Anthropocene” ideas, if we’re serious about saving Earth we need hope, says Tomás Saraceno, the artist whose tetrahedral balloons inspire researchers. The exhibition ON AIR is an ecosystem in becoming, hosting emergent choreographies and polyphonies across human and non-human universes, where artworks reveal the common, fragile and ephemeral rhythms and trajectories between these worlds. As a hybrid ecosystem, ON AIR is made of a myriad presences, both animate and inanimate, that meet and cohabit within it. Some voices become quiet, whilst others, perhaps those less often heard by human ears, are magnified. The exhibition functions as an ensemble for silent voices, performing the hidden scores that link events and sensibilities, earthly and cosmic phenomena – weaving a web of relations that cannot be described but maybe can be felt.
ON AIR proposes a space and time that makes manifest the forces and entities that float in the air, and their interactions with us: from CO2 to cosmic dust, from radio infrastructures to reimagined corridors of mobility. Thus, the invisible histories that compose the ecologies we are part of invite us to poetically rethink different ways of inhabiting the world – and of being human.
While extractivist activities that mine the Earth for resources continue to threaten entire ecologies, ON AIR celebrates new ways of thinking about our relation with the planet, through new modes of knowledge production. This is to open itself up to the debate and global challenges posed by the Anthropocene, a word proposed to define the current epoch we live in on Planet Earth, in which some human activities leave an impact so important that they profoundly modify terrestrial ecologies. It is especially through the activities of Aerocene, an interdisciplinary artistic project initiated by Tomás Saraceno that seeks to reactivate a common imaginary to collaborate ethically with the atmosphere and the environment, that visitors are invited to collectively engage in an exercise of urgent planetary attunement.
ON AIR echoes the artist’s practice as it gathers numerous collaborators and collaborations, bringing together scientific institutions, research groups, activists, local communities, visitors, musicians, philosophers, non-human, and celestial phenomena, all of whom equally take part in the evolution of the exhibition. A series of workshops, concerts, public symposiums become part of a continuous process of transformation of the Palais de Tokyo into an evolving “cosmic jam session”.
The “ON AIR live with…” days
The ON AIR exhibition, featuring daily a chorus of human and non-human voices, hosts events that enrich and transform it throughout its duration, especially during the three days of the “ON AIR live with…” program. During each occurence on october 26th, november 23rd and december 14th, a symposium brings together researchers, activists and artists within the exhibition spaces.
Tomás Saraceno was born in 1973 in Tucumán, Argentina. He lives and works in and beyond the planet Earth.
After obtaining his Masters in architecture at the Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes de la Nación Ernesto de la Cárcova in Buenos Aires, Tomás Saraceno studied Fine Art at the Städelschule in Francfort, followed by a Masters in Art and Architecture at the IUAV in Venice. Saraceno then moved to Berlin, where he works on projects that aim to travel “on and beyond planet Earth”. In 2009, the artist’s work was exhibited at the 53rd Venice Biennale, “Fare Mundi” directed by Daniel Birnbaum. His last major solo shows include “Cloud Cities”, presented at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin in 2011, and “On Space Time Foam” at the HangarBicocca in Milan in 2012. The same year, Saraceno produced an in situ Cloud City installation at the Metropolitan Museum of New York’s rooftop. Since 2013, Düsseldorf’s K21 Ständenhaus presents his aerial installation In Orbit, and in 2016 the show “Stillness in Motion, Cloud Cities” has been on at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
He has held residencies at Centre National d’Études Spatiales (2014–2015), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (2012–ongoing) and Atelier Calder (2010), among others. His work has been widely exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions, and is included in the collections of MoMA, New York; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin; among others.
Tomás Saraceno first presented his work at Palais de Tokyo in February 2015 in the exhibition “Le Bord des Mondes”, then proposed the seminar Aerocene along with the workshop “Museo Aerosolar”, in response to the COP21 in December 2015. His work Du sol au soleil was on view from October 2017 to January 2018 in Palais de Tokyo’s offsite exhibition « Voyage d’Hiver » in the gardens of Versailles’s castle.