“Should you sit upon a cloud you would not see the boundary line between one country and another, nor the boundary stone between a farm and a farm”
Berndnaut Smilde is a Dutch artist who “made a fortune” with clouds.
Far from digital games of overlapping and compositing softwares, Smilde’s clouds are concretely produced with the help of a smoke machine which is installed in the selected place along with a particular microclimate involving the raising of the humidity level and some specific theatrical lights.
Certainly, these installations are temporary and are captured by the artist’s camera before they completely disappear.
Although many years have passed since his first site‐specific “installation” arose for the first time, a veil of mystery still accompanies the artist’s work, whose technical‐creative process is still kept secret like a magic formula.
Smilde has always chosen his locations very carefully. In fact, he often selects sites with a particularly important historical and cultural past where he stages his clouds with an incredible realism for fragments of time only.
The compenetration of external and internal environmental elements creates a sort of subtle and playful alienation in time and space which leads the observer to feel a sudden synthesis between what is imaginary and what is real.
Traditionally, the presence of clouds suggests the possibility that rain and bad weather are looming; in Northern European art there are several depictions representing this natural subject which seems to cross unharmed all the historical periods.
From the symbolic point of view, Smilde’s installations seem to forget the conventional limits set by reality, time, space, even by our bodies in order to promote a state of incredulous suspension.
As if we were observing a miraculous phenomenon, a sort of reassuring certainty arises. This “natural” manifestation, albeit ambiguous and intangible, is a clear sign of the transience of life.