We stopped by the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center a few days ago to chat with Barcelona-based artist Jordi Enrich Jorba. He was testing out his latest reconstructed and recycled hot-air balloon installation (inflation?) that is being featured this weekend at the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY festival.
His idea to repurpose hot air balloons came when he asked a friend who works with a company that makes fabric for hot air balloons what happens to the balloons when they can’t fly anymore, and his friend said, “they go in the trash.” He started thinking about different uses for the fabric and how it might transform communal spaces around him.
Jorba said he also studied anthropology and enjoys creating projects with the people from the local communities wherever he goes. The ongoing project, “Nomadic Place,” explores the idea of community spaces in different cities by inflating these balloons in schools, gyms, galleries and parks with the objective of “rethinking the utility these places have in the communities they serve.”
Over the last four years, Jorba has traveled the globe with various repurposed balloons, offering interactive workshops and creating works of temporary architecture for participants to create, play and perform in.
This evening at 7:30 p.m., he will inflate the balloon at the Aula at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (268 Mulberry Street between Houston and Prince). Bob Holman, poet and proprietor of Bowery Poetry Club, will act as Master of Ceremonies, kicking off what is billed as A Performative Conference in Nine Acts. There will be performances, poetry, spoken word, dance battles and immersive video and sound installations lasting until 3:00 a.m. Guests are welcome to come and go at any time.
On Saturday, Jorba will install a balloon in Sara D. Roosevelt Park near Houston Street as the festival transforms the neighborhood street-scape into a temporary “city of ideas.” One hundred cultural and community groups will come together to present their ideas through hands-on workshops, performances, tours, and exhibitions.