In the Air – Wellcome Collection

London, 19 May 2022 – 16 October 2022

“In the Air” is a group exhibition at the Wellcome Collection that explores the geopolitics of air, the relationship of air and our health, and how it affects communities that inhabit it. Moving freely across borders and through bodies, air is both vital to our existence and a threat to our health. The exhibition explores the origins of air from 3.5-billion-year-old fossils to early drawings of microscopic life to contemporary artworks including drawings, photography, and sculpture responding to the pollution crisis and the geopolitics of air as a shared space.


  • Curators: Emily Sargent & George Vasey
  • Exhibition Project Manager: Kate Davies
  • Registrar: Emma Smith
  • Production Manager: Christian Kingham
    Proiect Assistant: Adam Rose
  • Audiovisual: Ricardo Barbosa, Jeremy Bryans, Ollie Isaac, Justin Margovan Lewis Sellars, Antonina Stulova
  • Exhibition Technician: Lucy Woodhouse
  • Conservator: Jillian Gregory
  • 2D Design: Twelve
  • Construction: Realm Proiects
  • Images © Thomas Adank

Image credits

  • A Roomful of Air, David Rickard, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Copperfield, London.
  • Photographs of British algae: cyanotype impressions, Anna Atkins, 1843-53. © Horniman Museum and Gardens.
  • Gornergletscher from On Top, Figure 20, Irene Kopelman, 2017, reproduced with permission of the artist and Labor, Mexico City.
  • A tiny world and countless compositions in it, Irene Kopelman, 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Labor, Mexico City.
  • Air Morphologies, Matterlurgy & arts XR, 2022
  • Cloud Studies, Forensic Architecture, 2021. © Forensic Architecture.
  • International Airspace, David Rickard, 2019, reproduced with permission of the artist and Copperfield London.


The exhibition design is structured around three curved sculptural enclosures, recalling air particles in form, each housing a film: Tacita Dean’s “A Bag of Air; Matterlurgy’s “Air Morphologies” and Forensic Architecture’s “Cloud Studies”.

Offset from each solid volume are a series of ephemeral floating fabric walls. The relationship between the light translucent walls and solid dark enclosures embodies the dialectic between the immateriality and materiality of air. The transparency of the fabric walls creates visual connectivity between different curatorial sections of the exhibition, and a calming backdrop for artworks.

The exhibition is divided into three sections, each with their own wall and fabric colour: ”The air below us” is reddish white referencing earthly tones; “The air we share” is greyish white indicating pollution; and “The above us” is blueish white recalling the sky. This subtle transition between different tones of white creates varied atmospheres as one moves through the exhibition, reinforcing the different themes and stratas of air.

Exhibition Plan

Exhibition Axonometric