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For additional information, please contact Media Relations Manager: Peter Cavagnaro at (510) 642-0365 or pcavagnaro@berkeley.edu.

Tomás Saraceno: Microscale, Macroscale, and Beyond: Large-Scale Implications of Small-Scale Experiments (November 18, 2007 - February 17, 2008)

Exhibition gives an unprecedented view of an artist who re-envisions our relationship to inhabitable space.

Berkeley, CA, November 7, 2007
— The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Tomás Saraceno: Microscale, Macroscale, and Beyond: Large-Scale Implications of Small-Scale Experiments, an exhibition featuring the visionary installations and photographs of Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno, who currently lives and works in Frankfurt. The exhibition marks Saraceno's first solo show in the U.S., giving Bay Area audiences a unique opportunity to view the work of an artist who fuses contemporary art with architectural theory and scientific research. The exhibition, which is part of BAM/PFA's acclaimed MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art, features photographs, small-scale sculptures, and a large-scale installation created specifically for the Berkeley Art Museum. Tomás Saraceno: Microscale, Macroscale, and Beyond: Large-Scale Implications of Small-Scale Experiments opens November 18, 2007 and runs through February 17, 2008.

Saraceno uses practical principles from engineering, physics, chemistry, aeronautics, and architecture to experiment and re-think the way we live in relation to one another. He works regularly with materials otherwise unknown outside of the scientific community, such as aerogel, a sponge-like insulating substance developed for use in the aerospace industry. Its incredibly light weight (only three times that of air itself) and strong structural properties make it an ideal potential building material for Saraceno to exemplify his vision of the future, which is perhaps best embodied in the ongoing project Air-Port-City. Air-Port-City envisions networks of habitable structures that float in the air. The freedom of their airborne location allows these sections of living space, organized within a modular cellular framework, to join together like clouds, creating aerial cities in constant physical transformation. Saraceno describes these kinds of structures as capable of embodying more elastic and dynamic rules related to political, geographical, and cultural borders.

On the microscale, Saraceno experiments with properties of suspension and soap film structures, creating devices that demonstrate the feasibility of his utopian ideas. For the Berkeley Art Museum, Saraceno will create a site-specific installation from his series Flying Garden, filled with Tillandsias and Spanish moss, plants that derive their nutrients from the air. Conceptually, this air-sufficient agricultural model serves as an accompaniment to other platforms for habitation or play, but also suggests the human self-sufficiency that his project envisions.

Saraceno continues the tradition of visionary architects before him, including Buckminster Fuller, Frei Otto, Archigram, and the Ant Farm Collective. But his project is equally informed by the present moment—reflecting a consciousness about waste and conservation, striving for a harmonic balance between mediated and natural worlds, and acknowledging the interdependence of individuals to one another.

A respect for nature is especially evident in Saraceno's photographs, which range from expansive views of the world's largest salt lake, Solar de Uyuni in the Bolivian Andes, to extreme close-ups of natural phenomena like water droplets gathering on a spider web. Though exceptionally beautiful, they also poetically suggest Saraceno's vision for future models of habitation: the images of the extremely reflective salt lake create the illusion of a great, never-ending plain of sky and clouds, while the spider web possesses a flexible strength mirrored in the netlike structure of Air-Port-City, with its constellation of cellular bubbles.

Saraceno was born in Argentina in 1973 and studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de Buenos Aires. He continued postgraduate studies in art and architecture at Escuela Superior de Bellas Artes Ernesto de la Carcova, Buenos Aires, and Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany, where he currently lives and works.

Tomás Saraceno: Microscale, Macroscale, and Beyond: Large-Scale Implications of Small-Scale Experiments is curated by Elizabeth Thomas, Phyllis Wattis MATRIX curator.

Public Program

Artist's Talk
Sunday, November 18, 3:30 p.m.
Gallery 1
Reception follows
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas will join Tomás Saraceno for an in-gallery discussion of his current project.

About BAM/PFA

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) aims to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through contemporary and historical art and film, engaging audiences from the campus, Bay Area community, and beyond. BAM/PFA is one of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance, presenting fifteen art exhibitions and five hundred film programs each year. The museum’s collection of more than 15,000 works includes exceptional examples of mid-twentieth-century painting, including important works by Hans Hofmann, Jackson Pollock, Eva Hesse, and Mark Rothko, as well as historical and contemporary Asian art, early American painting, Conceptual and contemporary international art, and California and Bay Area art. The PFA film and video collection now includes the largest group of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive holdings of Soviet silents, West Coast avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, rare animation, Central Asian productions, Eastern European cinema, and international classics.

Credit Line

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis.

Additional donors to the MATRIX Program include the UAM Council MATRIX Endowment, Joachim and Nancy Bechtle, Maryellen and Frank Herringer, Noel and Penny Nellis, Paul L. Wattis III, and Iris Shimada.



The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional support is provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Koret Foundation, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Packard Humanities Institute, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Columbia Foundation, the Christensen Fund, and other private foundations and corporations, and our individual donors and members. Major endowment support has been provided by the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation and by George Gund III.


University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Located at 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.

Gallery and Museum Store Hours: Wednesday and Friday to Sunday, 11 to 5; Thursday 11 to 7.

Admission: General admission $8; seniors and students 12-18 years $5; BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty, and children under 12 free; group tour member $3 (to arrange a group tour, call (510) 642-5188). Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.

Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; FAX (510) 642-4889; PFA recorded message (510) 642-1124 TDD: (510) 642-8734

Website: bampfa.berkeley.edu

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