If you’ve walked or driven past MOCA Cleveland after dark this summer, you’ve probably seen Jimmy Kuehnle’s 40-ft. tall, 25-ft. wide bright pink, inflatable installation in the building’s large front window. The soft, bright form intentionally contrasts MOCA Cleveland’s cutting-edge architecture.
“The architecture influenced my design by its very shape,” explains Kuehnle. “MOCA Cleveland’s building has a very hard feeling, so I wanted something soft and overwhelming to shove up against these rigid architectural elements. I started with a 3D model of the Kohl Atrium that I built from CAD plans of the original building. I designed shapes that would fill that space in different ways. Some design decisions such as the height of the steel armature that supports the piece, as well as the sharp angle of the railings, had to be sculpted around. I also wanted to press against the sloping glass on the Museum’s exterior.”
The internal components include lights, fans and timers to regulate the air pressure. This causes the form to slowly expand and contract, as if it were alive and breathing. At night, the work glows brightly, and is visible far down Euclid Avenue.
“I wanted to fill the space with form and mass. I think that inflatables are very interesting when you are inside one,” he says. “When you’re inside an inflatable, the lack of 90-degree angles and natural architectural forms really makes for a surreal experience, and I enjoy it very much. Some of my original ideas were based on an inflatable that would completely fill the space and only leave spots for people to stand with the work enveloping them. Lights would shine down from above indicating the spots that would be safe in the sculpture, as it would come down and surround that entire area. Some of the first designs included these all encompassing sections. Some were only, in theory, three feet high, so they would require squatting and not have enough room for a standing adult. There were also passageways that required visitors to meander through the inflatable. The logistics of this idea were not feasible, however, so in this case, the zigzag protrusions are my attempt at making a surreal, absurd, abstract atmosphere in the environment.”
Kuehnle will discuss this site-specific installation in more detail at Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern in conjunction with MOCA Cleveland’s Summer 2015 exhibition, How to Remain Human. Kuehnle’s talk begins at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6.
Following the presentation, guests will have the opportunity to venture down Euclid Avenue and explore How to Remain Human before the museum closes at 9 p.m. Free.
(Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern) 11625, Euclid Ave., 216-231-5400, happydogcleveland.com
(MOCA Cleveland) 11400 Euclid Ave., 216-421-8671, mocacleveland.org