Emmanuel Visiting Artist Write-Up
I did not attend a visiting artist lecture due to work conflicts but was able to meet with an artist at the Walker Art Center.
The artist I was fortunate enough to meet was Alberto Pesavento, although he was limited in the time that he had. He briefly explained that he is a writer who got involved with Tomas Saraceno in a sculpture/balloon titled "Museo Aerosolar," or "Flying Museum." Tomas Saraceno is an artist known for making balloon structures and sculptures, one of which was recently included at the Walker Art Center's "Brave New Worlds" exhibition.
Tomas Saraceno and Alberto Pesavento's current project is a giant solar-powered balloon created with recycled plastic bags and packing tape. I was drafted into cutting these donated bags for them with a couple of other Walker interns. The process includes sorting old plastic bags into different sizes, then cutting them into single paneled squares. These are then distributed to the community so that they can draw or paint on the balloons, and lastly assembled by the two artists with clear packing tape.
At first when I was introduced to the project I was not very impressed. I didn't really see anything amazing or innovating in creating a solar powered balloon. However, after talking to Pesavento I understood that the project from the artist's perspective was not so much about the actual balloon, but rather about the communities that were being brought together not only by the construction of the balloon, but also by the traveling nature of the balloon. The artists enjoy working with very small communities to involve everyone in the art project, and through this one artistic goal bring the community together. They also enjoy giving communities without very many resources an outlet with which to express themselves, and a way to share their personal message around the world. The project also creates awareness around recycling and pollution, and Saraceno has said he wants solar powered balloons to be a mode of transportation in the future, to cut down on greenhouse gasses by decreasing plane travel. I personally think this will never really be viable, but more power to him.
While talking about how much he enjoyed being in a small community in Israel, I asked Pesavento what he thought about working with an institution such as the Walker for the latest installment of Museo Aerosolar. He responded by telling me it was difficult to transition from a project which has no funding and was for the common people, to one that is now recognized internationally and is more about the audience rather than the participants. I was interested to hear this because it seems by shifting the focus and the process of the project that the vital and most interesting parts, which were bringing together disenfranchised communities and developing a sense of cooperation, have been lost. Therefore the project collapses into just a massive solar balloon, which is not nearly as interesting as the interpersonal relationships it was helping to foster.
Overall, Pesavento was kind and seemed genuine about his work. Saraceno was also supposed to meet with us, but he failed to show for the third time, which makes me think he's a flake. It was nice to be able to clarify the purpose of Museo Aerosolar and to get a deeper understanding into the motivation of a working artist.