The Divine Comedy

When 21 Mar 2011 - 17 May 2011
Where Various Venues in Harvard University
Enquiry 617.495.4784

Tomás Saraceno, Cloud City, 2011. Courtesy the artist.  2011 Tomás Saraceno.


March 21–May 17, 2011

Press Release:

The Harvard University Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Art Museums are pleased to announce an unprecedented three-part exhibition that addresses the converging domains of contemporary art and design practice. Entitled The Divine Comedy, this exhibition is comprised of major installations by internationally acclaimed artists Olafur Eliasson, Tomás Saraceno, and Ai Weiwei and is on display March 21 through May 17, 2011, at the Graduate School of Design, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, and the Northwest Science Building.

The Divine Comedy borrows its title from Dante Alighieri’s epic medieval poem in which the author presents a vision of earthly existence as an allegorical journey through the realms of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. This exhibition, curated by Sanford Kwinter, explores the political dimensions of History (Weiwei), Mind (Eliasson), and Cosmos (Saraceno), and how these aspects of contemporary experience are being engaged by art and design speculation today.

Olafur Eliasson

Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gund Hall, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

Public hours: Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm; Saturday and Sunday, noon–4pm

Olafur Eliasson’s contribution, Three to now, engages the tacit forms of experience and understanding that underlie both scientific theorization and our knowledge of the exterior world. This installation at the Graduate School of Design consists of 55 technical instruments, machines, and other objects that challenge or subvert the trusted and familiar routines of perception by which we order our comprehension of the physical world.

Tomás Saraceno

Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Terrace, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

Public hours: Monday–Friday, 10am–5pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1–5pm

Tomás Saraceno is widely known for his rethinking of urban geography and its potential migration into the physical and political atmosphere over our heads. His inflatable sculpture, Cloud City—part planet, part vehicle, and by definition humanly inhabitable— is embedded with solar technology and sensors that record and interact with aspects of the wider environment.

Ai Weiwei

Northwest Science Building, B1 Level, 52 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA

Public hours: Monday–Friday, 7am–10pm

Ai Weiwei’s installation, Untitled (2011), memorializes the thousands of schoolchildren who died as a result of the major earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province in May 2008. A site-specific work of 5,335 identical school backpacks represents the exact number of children who died during the earthquake and in the subsequent collapses of poorly constructed school buildings. A related sound piece by the dissident artist, a voice recording reciting the names of the victims, titled Remembrance (2010), will play in the space. The counting of the student earthquake victims and collection of details about their deaths are the products of a “citizens’ investigation” conducted by Weiwei and his studio.

This exhibition is made possible by the Graham Gund Exhibition Fund, held jointly by the Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Art Museums.

For more information, visit www.thedivinecomedy.org.