November 15, 2023
For less than ten seconds, Berndnaut Smilde’s floating sculptures transform galleries, halls, and warehouses into uncanny spaces where indoors meets out. Puffy clouds made of smoke and water hang inside tiled interiors or industrial workshops for a brief time when they’re photographed by the artist’s collaborators. The ephemeral works are part of Smilde’s Nimbus series, ongoing for more than a decade. “I’m still fascinated by capturing a cloud. I never get bored by the process of how the appearance forms into a physical cloud, taking up space, reflecting light, and a specific moment,” he shares.
In recent years, the sculptures have become denser and larger, more imposing elements that haunt quiet spaces from Dubai to Paris to Washington, D.C. Depending on their location, the pieces take on varied meanings to explore questions of time, boundaries, and perception. Smilde explains:
The cloud is a great metaphor and it changes its context, its interpretation, with each space. The old chapel at the Hotel Maria Kapel art space in the Dutch town of Hoorn, where I made my first cloud, for example, emphasized the divine connotations, but in other environments, it could appear as an element escaped from a landscape painting, a thought, a heavenly place, a concealing element, or simply an in-between state. This fleeting aspect of the work is something I’ve embraced in my other artworks, as well. I’ve also learned not to always need to have full control over it and to accept change. A cloud isn’t durable, it changes, grows, and breaks apart.
Smilde’s work is included in a group show on view through March 17, 2024, at Museum Gegenstandsfreier Kunst in Otterndorf, Germany, and he’s currently creating a piece for a hotel in Amsterdam, where he’s based. Find more of his short-lived weather works on Instagram. (via Aesthetica Magazine)
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