Berndnaut Smilde: Nimbus Milstein Hall 2014

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Minerva, 2012, digital C-type print. Photography by Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

Berndnaut Smilde Nimbus Minerva (2012), digital C-type print. photo / Cassander Eeftinck Schattenkerk

AAP Spring 2014 Exhibitions and Events

Artist Berndnaut Smilde lives and works in Amsterdam. His work consists of installations, sculptures, and photographs. Focusing on the ethereal, his work refers to both the physical state of a building as well as a moment of revelation. His works question: inside and outside, temporality, size, the function of materials, and architectural elements.

From the billowy Baroque sculpted clouds of Bernini, to the stormy cloud paintings of William Turner, to the skyscapes of the Hudson River School, clouds persist as objects of artistic interest because of they represent both representational challenges and freedom. Smilde's Nimbus works present a transitory moment of presence in a specific location. Using fog machines, Smilde creates his clouds under precise temperature and humidity conditions. The temporary aspect of the work is key; the cloud is only there for a few seconds before it falls apart. They can be interpreted as a sign of loss or becoming. The physical aspect is important but the work in the end only exists as a photograph.

Speaking with Amandas Ong, Smilde described his approach: "I became interested in the idea of juxtaposing incongruous situations against each other. The image of a cloud in the middle of a room somehow stuck with me because it seemed so surreal yet palpable at the same time. If you take away the objects and people that occupy buildings and spaces, there is a stronger emphasis on the bare architectural elements…the clouds create a collision between the original state of the space and its actual function."

Smilde holds an M.A. from the Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen. He received the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design, and Architecture award and is a resident at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

The artist's talk is cosponsored by AAP and the Cornell Council for the Arts' 2014 Biennial, "Intimate Cosmologies: The Aesthetics of Scale in an Age of Nanotechnology."

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