Thursday, March 5, 2009

ballooning euphoria

A friend recently introduced me to the ecstatically inventive balloon sculptures of Jason Hackenwerth...and my dreams haven't been the same since. His delicate masterpieces are constructed of thousands of vibrantly colored and precisely inflated balloons, fastened together to form what look like prickly reef-hugging amoebic creatures, desert cacti or the visions of blushing sexuality. The New York-based artist's pieces are fairly large scale, transforming the space they inhabit into hallucinatory breathing realms where light and the faint draft of industrial air seem to make the balloon animals dance ever so slightly.

Their beauty is fleeting - lasting about a month or so before withering and drooping, mirroring our own decay. Hackenwerth explains:
“the ephemeral nature of my installations is an unmistakable reflection of our own. Because of its delicacy, it is difficult to predict how long it will last. During its existence, these vibrant and organic forms undergo a process of transformation metaphorically similar to our own short lives. Shrinking and shriveling as they age, their spring-like luster sadly wilts, and in the autumn of their existence the can be seen struggling desperately against gravity as they slowly slip away."

Hackenwerth began his career as a street performer. While working towards his Bachelors of Fine Arts at Webster University, he made his living as a clown making poodles and noodles for kids parties and parades. Hackenwerth later completed his Masters of Fine Arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums wordwide, including in London, Venice, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. He recently exhibited at Art Basel in Miami and was featured at the 2009 TED Conference.

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