Floating art


What is it that makes some environments invisible to us, while others are etched forever in our minds? French artist Charles Pétillon has created a number of interesting and exciting exhibitions on this very theme. If you are visiting London during the month of September, you must go and see his most recent installation, 100,000 balloons floating under a roof in Covent Garden.

"It does not matter how beautiful a place is, if we have seen it enough times after a while we stop seeingit. This fascinates me," says Charles Pétillon.

But he is very adamant that Heartbeat, which is the name of the installation, is not just about decoration or an odd design detail. He wants people to stop and think about what their surroundings really mean, and preferably from a historical perspective. Art is supposed to open people's eyes.

"When Covent Garden was built in 1552, it changed the entire image of the city. But most people who come here have no idea about the significance of this place as a living marketplace through the centuries. Many of my installations are about these kinds of forgotten memories; posing questions to the visitors, who then get to discover the history behind them."

The floating balloon sculpture is 50 metres long and flashes suggestive, pulsating signals above the heads of the visitors – thus the name, Heartbeat.

The exhibition runs until 27 September.