LP: Many of Piene’s works such as the light ballet performances and sky art events evoke the space somewhere between the ground and the sky, making use of that space as a medium of suspension.
OP: The balloon as a border-defying,innocent, lightweight, lighter-than-air thing took on a slightly political role in all of this.
SRP: I would like to think of the balloon as empty space given a temporary form. The border that Piene speaks about could then refer to both the terrestrial boundary that this floating orb adamantly ignores, and also the subtle skin that separates the inside and the outside of the balloon.
LP: As a symbolic object, the balloon epitomizes the transcendence of man-made borders. Perhaps like a message in a bottle, it’s a proposition to an unknown receiver. It can be so rife with symbolism and interpretation that I think at a certain point we also need to acknowledge that a balloon is just a balloon.
As a physical form, the balloon is the thin membrane as well as the spaces within and without. Therefore besides being a discrete object, it points to an ecology of invisible forces that hold and embrace it. These forces sway us this way and that, much as they sway the balloon.
This discussion makes me mindful of the porosity of my skin and the perviousness of my being. We can look at this permeability of boundaries politically. Circling back to the beginning of our conversation, we are connected to those far away from us to whom we owe our material comfort–our computers, phones,clothes, cars, etc.
SRP: Perhaps it’s the sensitivity of the membrane that mediates the inside and the outside that counts. The co-constitutive zones of the personal and the political must be nurtured by remaining receptive, like a weather balloon, to relations with distant others. However, I don’t think we need to dispense with the metaphysical connotations of the balloon in order to engage with its political metaphors. While the balloon is a literal means of dispersing information, whether it be political fliers or advertisements, it is also a metaphor for the social forces that shape us. And finally, the balloon as a work of art allows us to consider being itself, floating untethered by material and social constraints.