WEIRD NEWS
09/05/2017 03:06 pm ET

Artist Lifts Off After Strapping Herself To 20,000 Helium Balloons

Noëmi Lakmaier floated for nine hours during an exhibit on the "fear of happiness."

Twenty-thousand. That’s the number of helium-filled balloons that it took to lift an artist off the ground on Sunday during a gravity-defying art installation reminiscent of the beloved Pixar movie, “Up.”

For nine hours, the colorful array of party balloons suspended artist Noëmi Lakmaier before spectators inside of Australia’s Sydney Opera House.

Cameron Spencer via Getty Images
Austrian British artist Noëmi Lakmaier is seen suspended by 20,000 helium-filled balloons inside of the Sydney Opera House on Sunday.

The unusual performance, which was part of the opera house’s Antidote festival, was called Cherophobia ― the fear of happiness.

“We’re all supposed to want to be happy, aren’t we?” Lakmaier told Australia’s ABC News.

“Being frightened of what we want seems to push and pull, and leave us in a constant Catch-22, which sounds so uncomfortable, but in so many ways resonates with the fight between my body and the balloons,” she continued.

According to Lakmaier’s website, her artwork’s theme aims at emphasizing and exaggerating “the relationship between object, individual and space.”

Don Arnold via Getty Images
The live installation was called Cherophobia, which is the fear of happiness.

“Through the use of everyday materials as well as her own body and the bodies of others, she constructs temporary living installations ― alternative physical realities ― exploring the psychological implications of power, control and insecurity, the drive to belong and succeed as well as feelings of self-doubt and otherness,” her artist statement reads.

The artist’s concept originated from her experience as someone who has a physical disability, according to her website.

Don Arnold via Getty Images
Lakmaier has said that her inspiration behind her artwork's concept originates from her requiring a wheelchair.

“I am quite scared of giving up control,” Lakmaier, who uses a wheelchair, told the English website Culture24 last year.

Being suspended in the air, relying upon the balloons to hold her, forces her to face that fear, she explained.

“In a sense, I’m not in control but really ultimately I am completely because I’m engineering the whole thing ― even if physically I’m not,” she said.

The last time she performed the installation was in 2016 in London. During that performance, she stayed afloat for 48 hours.

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