This Is (This Is) Air

(This Is) Air, rendering of Nic Brunsdon & ENESS’s 2023 architecture commission for the National Gallery of Victoria’s 2023 Triennial, image: NGV

Perth architect Nic Brunsdon’s inflatable and undulating sphere, (This is) Air, will be realized in the garden of the National Gallery of Victoria this December, as part of the 2023 Triennial.

It will respire, inflate and deflate, to help make air visible. As it “exhales” it will transform “into an array of cloud-like configurations.” On first, second, and third glances, it does resemble the satelloons and sculptural, inflated spheres that are the never-dissipating obsession of mine for the last 16+ years. It is comforting and encouraging to have astute friends and colleagues like Andrew Russeth see a 14m balloon ball project in Australia and think, “Oh, I need to send this to Greg.”

Paul Chan, Khara en Penta (Joyer in 5), 2019, image: Greene Naftali via Walker Art Center, where a show of Chan’s Breathers was on view until last month

As I type this up, the nature of Brunsdon’s project seems to relate even more closely to Paul Chan’s Breathers, whose undulating sculptural shapes are created by the flow of air through them. (This is) Air feels like a massive, Platonic solid (sic) version of Chan’s contorted, figural objects.

Martin Creed’s Work No. 2821, (half the air in a given space), 2017, was acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which illustrates it thus.

It also brings to mind Martin Creed, whose “half the air in a given space” series uses smaller balloons, and obviously involves an enclosed space. Of course, a 14m-diameter sphere contains almost exactly half the air, by volume, of a 14-meter cube. So in a way, Brunsdon’s outdoor project also makes it possible to imagine, not just the air, but the space it would be given.

2023 NGV Architecture Commission: Nic Brunsdon, (This is) Air []