On the occasion of Art Basel Hong Kong 2015, SCAD commissioned me to create a site-specific installation ‘Aries’ for Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s grand lobby. I had a team of three assistants and we worked 8-10 hours a day for four days. The installation used over 3,000 latex balloons and will stay robust for the duration of the fair.
My team and I created the works in the renovated courtroom on the SCAD HK campus and transported them wrapped in plastic. The installation process took place between midnight and 5am while hotel guests were sleeping. We worked closely with Mandarin Oriental to orchestrate the logistics and hanging mechanisms.
The concept of ‘Aries’ came from a couple of different areas. Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac. It symbolizes new life and new birth. Also, originally that symbol for that constellation is a “Y” which relates to the female reproductive organ, the Fallopian tubes. Once again, that relates to fertility and new life. It would be an interesting way to bring the two concepts together since we are entering into the month of Aries in March, and it is also spring time. I thought that two twin sculptures would be nice because in some ways they could represent our Western and Eastern cultures.
People often ask me how many balloons I used, or how long it took to make. Some ask why I use balloons, but people rarely ask what the works mean. As far back as I can remember I wanted to make art that could reach a wide audience in a meaningful way. There is so much art out there that portends about what is wrong with society or the world, and in the scheme of things, just seems to add to the pile. My intention is to make things that point to the positive side of life.
At first glance it might be easy to think of my work as big playful kidstuff. One of my sculptures may use thousands of seemingly innocuous latex balloons. What may become evident upon further contemplation is that each balloons is part of a complex relationship to all the others that create the whole. They transcend their individual simplicity to become something much more dynamic and perhaps amazing. What’s more, the works are ephemeral.
People ask, “Are you sad that they don’t last?” Well, no. There is an important lesson here. In fact, the entire point of the work is that we have a very short opportunity to see and do some amazing things and to be part of a complex society if we only recognize the importance of relationships and our potential for greatness.
In a world where people are conditioned to buy and collect more and more things and are bombarded with messages that tell us we need this product or that car to be more special, I hope to create a moment for viewers to have a feeling of inspiration and awe. A journey into the unexpected, if only ever briefly, where viewers may feel transported to a quiet place where everything is possible and nothing more is needed.
More works by Jason Hackenwerth: