An Inflatable Sculpture Designed to Fight Existential Dread

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FriendsWithYou, 'Nature's Gift,' 2017. (Courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California)

Nature's Gift is an inflatable sculpture, a giant abstract balloon animal, glowing in bubble gum colors. It's a brand new work filling the Great Hall at theOakland Museum of California by Samuel Borkson and Arturo Sandoval III, known as the fine arts collective FriendsWithYou. There are hammocks to swing in around the sculpture, and it's okay to touch and lean on its bulbous nipples and phallic extensions. Ethereal music by Norman Bambi plays in the background. Artist Borkson says the work is designed to bring joy, at a time when people are stressed out about politics and climate change and nuclear war. "It has components of healing and unknown color therapy in it," Borkson says. "Making work that is healing is such an important thing for our times right now, because we’re battling such intense feelings of isolation and pain and suffering and hurt, so this is our attempt at really touching people."

The piece reminded co-host Kevin Jones of chill out rooms at raves in the 1990s, and it left me wanting to hug the artists, which I did. Details here.