Clouds - Ascension ladder
Materials: Wooden ladder, recycled water bottles, resin, epoxy paint
Dimensions: 357 x 130 x 110cm
Catalogued: Clouds | Nuages, Damiani Editore Milan 2012
Exhibition history: 2011 La Maréchalerie - centre d'art contemporain Versailles
Courtesy: Courtesy of the Artists
The artists began experimenting with recycled water bottles following a residency in Cairo (2009). Here they encountered the now threatened Zabaleen communities who scrape a living as the unofficial ‘garbage people’ of the city, recycling 80% of what they collect. The water bottle not only embodies the inequality of access to one of our most vital resources but also serves as an environmentally relevant construction material. Orta experimented with assembling bottles together and coating them with a resin, leading to the Clouds series as first shown in the Gypsotheque of the Chateau de Versailles (2011). This body of work includes shelters and sculptures shown at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2013), as well as the monumental installation Cloud | Meteoros (2013), a commission for London St Pancras International station. The title of the series references not only the physical resemblance to clouds but also the natural water cycle, which could be affected by climate change and pollution.
The cloud is an intermediary between two worlds. Its airy lightness and gas give free rein to the architectural imagination, whilst its liquid composition returns it to earth. The cloud, by virtue of its ubiquity, is an intercessor between reality and imagination, between heaven and earth, light and gravity. The absence of a stable form, which characterizes the cloud, is a powerful concept that embodies, with its dreams, the designs for an ideal society. Playing on its metamorphoses, it can convey, in the mode of fable, a more political message without gravity. Here, the message focuses on water, from which clouds are constituted, by asking how humans will share this resource on earth. Philipe Potié