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Artist Jimmy Kuenhle walks the streets in an inflatable sculpture

Jumping starting thinking by surprising with the absurd

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin

Last year when Jimmy Kuenhle walked the streets of downtown Austin in one of his giant inflatable, wearable, brightly colored creations, the San Antonio-based artist battled wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour and ended up being sucked into a parking garage when the wind caused a vacuum effect.

He's not looking to repeat the event when he dons 'You Wear What I Wear,' another of his inflatable suits, tomorrow at noon at Cesar Chavez Street and Congress Avenue and embarks on a random trek. But Kuehnle is hoping to surprise unsuspecting passers-by just as he has in numerous places around the world.

A chance encounter with something as absurd as a guy parading around in giant inflatable abstract balloon is, Kuehnle claims, a great means of breaking up the routine of everyday thinking. Well, at least for a moment. There's no proof that Kuehnle's art antics have led to any major intellectual breakthroughs, though they do garner plenty of attention.

AA-S: What happened at the Fusebox Festival last year when you got sucked into that parking garage?

JK:

AA-S: What got you started making objects on such a scale?

JK

AA-S: You've said you want to do anything that you can to get out into the streets and change people's thinking. Why?

JK:Our thinking sometimes loses its critical edge and must be reexamined and recharged. We need to encourage empirical thought and rational thought. Rather than walking around with a sandwich board sign (on me) and being written off as a crazy person, the public inflatable suit performances, which walk the line between spectacle and the absurd, are my small contribution to the need for constant requestioning and re-examining our lives and our place in the cosmos.

AA-S: Did you choose your March 12 gig in Austin because it's during both the SXSW Interactive and Film conferences?

JK: It is actually a coincidence that SXSW is starting on the same day, although I look forward to seeing the excitement surrounding the festival. I have performances on Fridays around lunchtime because everyone is in a good mood after lunch on a Friday. The 12 noon start time also allows more people to see the work.

AA-S: How big is 'You Wear What I Wear?'

JK:

jvanryzin@statesman.com; 445-3699

'You Wear What I Wear' a public performance by Jimmy Kuelne

When:

Where: Starts at Cesar Chavez St. and Congress Ave.