Biosphere III

Biosphere II, Earth System science research facility, Tucson, Arizona

Biosphere III was a large-scale performance installation that took place in an old power plant outside Oslo in the winter of 1990. It was inspired by the pseudoscientific project Biosphere II, which was developed in the Sonora Desert outside Tucson, Arizona (USA). Eight “Biospherians” were sealed into a gigantic greenhouse simulating the conditions on earth (“Biosphere I”), were they were supposed to stay and survive for two years. The utopian idea was that the Biosphere II would be a self-supporting ecosystem generating its own oxygen and food. Eventually, this new-age “Noah’s Ark” would be able to carry human species to other planets where they could settle and constitute intergalactic colonies.

Biosphere II, illustration of the Earth System science research facility, Tucson, Arizona

In Bigert & Bergström’s inverted biosphere, the viewer was invited into a huge, slowly inflating tent. They could follow the activity outside the sphere through windows: there, two machinists revealed different dystopian dioramas, ranging from a mechanical greenhouse to melting ice monoliths. After a while, the machinists made their way into the main sphere through a series of inflated air locks and lead screens. Inside the sphere, the machinists attacked four minimal copper boxes with torches, releasing their airbag-like contents. The transformation of the sphere was complete when the flower-patterned plastic bubbles had filled up with air.

Biosphere III was performed and constructed in collaboration with Gallery Riis, Oslo, 1990.

"Biosphere III" illustration by Johan Mets
"Biosphere III," 1990. Inflatable poster, pvc, 70 x 100 cm. Design: Greger Nilsson. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger
"Biosphere III," video documentation


Photos: Dag Alveng
Uninflated tent, external view
Partially inflated tent, internal view
Audience in tent
Inflated tent, external view
Ice Monoliths
Burned view
Greenhouse of Destruction
Led box opens
Airlock inflates
Airlock inflated
Attacking copper box
Copper box inflates
"Biosphere III" completed
Bigert & Bergström exits from "Biosphere III"
Capsule room 1
Light archive