This exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art could be your worst nightmare if you are allergic to latex or claustrophobic. For the rest of us it is a unique and enchanting experience. The exhibit features 27,000 purple balloons piled 8 feet deep in a room with mostly glass walls.
This installation is the work of British artist and musician Martin Creed. Entitled Half the Air in a Given Space, this concept was first created in 1998 with white balloons and has been reenacted several times since in different colors and configurations.
As the name suggests, half a room's entire volume is filled with air-inflated balloons and then visitors are encouraged to walk through. “It is important to me,” says Creed, “that the situation is normal, that, as usual, the space is full of air; it’s just that half of it [is] inside the balloons.”
Meant to evoke a sense of celebration and remembrance of childhood, the installation is almost guaranteed to leave everyone giggling or with a smile on their face. As you can see here one of the major challenges for exhibit staff is to get people in and out without loosing large quantities of balloons in the process.
Only 10 people were allowed in at a time and you flattened yourself as close to the glass as possible and slid in .
Staff picked up and stuffed stray balloons back in.
Because this is a room with 16 foot ceilings, the balloons were 8 feet deep and once inside you were enveloped in a purple landscape. You heard rather than saw other people in the room unless they were extremely close. For me, initial navigation stayed along the perimeter until the situation grew more familiar and then I braved the depths of room central.
It was a bright sunny day and taking pictures of the view through balloons proved entertaining. A cloudy day would likely yield a different experience.
And I found it hard to resist a little self portraiture in hard reflective surfaces.
If you want to encounter this phenomenon yourself, get a move on to the Cleveland Museum of Art. The exhibit closes November 25,2012 or you'll have to wait for another incarnation somewhere.
The link above takes you to the installation at the Rennie Gallery in Vancouver 2011. Watching it reminds me of the effect the balloons had on my hair. Having relatively straight and slick hair I thought dreadlocks were an impossibility for me. The balloons altered that idea.
If you watch the video, notice how much these adults are laughing.
Go see this, if you have the opportunity.
And if you are not allergic to latex or claustrophobic.