Visitors to SummerSalt will be wowed by a series of soaring inflatable art installations dramatically altering familiar city views. Lit from within, these theatrical characters will reimagine the city in a playful new way during the day and even more spectacularly at night.
Over SummerSalt, several major buildings and iconic structures in the Melbourne Arts Precinct will feature a ‘building interruption’ in the form of an internally lit inflatable character.
Airena, the company behind these magical creations, is a collaborative Melbourne-based design and fabrication studio specialising in ‘airgineering’ – large scale inflatable artworks, bespoke creature creations & puppetry, artistic engineering and design, and participatory events all rolled into one.
Inspired by Takashi Murakami and Japanese toy design, the art of Airena takes on forms of fantasy and magical realism to play in the realm of monsters – all beautiful outsiders that secretly hide within us all but made bolder, real, and introduced as friends.
Incorporating bio-structural design principles within air-filled structures, Airena turns concepts and ideas into reality. The special material properties used in each Airena creation can illuminate at night to further activate spaces as giant, glowing lanterns. Airena monsters exist despite the confines of ordinary, every day logic. They are mysterious, playful underdogs; icons, deities, and manifestations of fun.
Airena’s inflatable ‘lanterns’ are part of a narrative that encourages the public to see the world differently, to re-look at buildings and structures they have seen many times in a new light, to discover them afresh, explore and open their eyes to the world.
It’s about activating even the outer most extremes of the resident arts organisations – the rooftops and balconies that house them. It turns the companies inside out and shows that art, fun, play, and creative ideas all live inside. It’s less about the price of admission and more about the worth of an experience, of sharing a moment. Being present is the reward.
As part of SummerSalt festival, Airena’s precinct-wide initiative aims to further activate Southbank, engage the community on a visually fun level, and invite us all to see the world differently.
The SummerSalt space-activation project combines the work of Airgineer, artist and designer Felipe Reynolds, theatre maker and director Ed Boyle and the scenic art talents of Joe Blanck.