I installed a different version of Martin Creed’s Half the Air in a Given Space a few years ago at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard.
We installed the work in the entrance to the museum itself and one of the things that I observed was that when people arrived at the museum they all kind of had a serious expression on their face like they were gonna learn something or that they had to pay attention and then when they went through the balloon room and I saw their faces afterwards, their faces had really lit up and they were kind of full of joy and laughter and it really transformed their expectations of the rest of the experience to follow.
One of the things that I like about Martin’s work is that it’s at one level very simple: exactly half the air is contained by balloons and half is not. In each case there’s a calculation of the volume of air in a room, there’s a calculation of the volume of air in each balloon which gives you the number of balloons you have to blow up. It’s very simple mathematical proposition, but the experience that you of the work is something very different.
You can experience joy and wonder and play and laughter. Some people even might be a little claustrophobic being completely surrounded by balloons. It is such an immersive, playful experience. You can’t really stand back from it. You have to go into it, explore it, be with it. There’s no space between you and the work itself.
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