59 Steps to be on Air by Sun Power/Do it Yourself, 2003

Ink on paper, 12 sheets (8.5 x 11 inches)
Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York


Mobilizing ideas of lightness and flux, Tomás Saraceno questions how we might shift the way we inhabit space on a vast social scale by creating architectural propositions for airborne cities and ecologies. His best-known work, Air-Port-City, offers a model for these floating environments based on the structure of soap bubbles.

59 Steps to be on Air by Sun Power/Do it Yourself is a set of instructions for making a geodesic solar balloon. Saraceno notes that hot-air balloons were first developed during the French Revolution, motivated not only by desire to evade conflicts on earth but to seek out a different set of ruling conditions by which to live.


Tomás Saraceno’s installation, sculpture and photography challenge the conventional restrictions on the human habitat, and suggest new ways of perceiving nature. Futuristic urban models of floating metropolises suggest the possibility of moving cities from the Earth’s surface into the air and serve as a central theme in the artist’s practice.

Continuing in the tradition of visionary architects before him, including Buckminster Fuller, Gyula Kosice, Archigram, and the Ant Farm Collective, Saraceno’s concerns are born of the contemporary anxieties over the depletion of world resources, conservation, and immigration. Saraceno is working towards realizing these futuristic urban models as a practical solution to the crowding of the Earth’s surface. Fully realizing the philosopher Felix Guattari’s “ecosophy,” the artist brings together the three related ecologies of the environmental, mental, and social worlds into a methodological practice.

Born in Argentina and currently working in Frankfurt, Germany, Saraceno has exhibited at The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA; Barbican Art Gallery, London; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; 53rd Venice Biennale, Venice; and the Hayward Gallery, London.

Images courtesy the artists