Numéro - - English Text - By Anaël Pi­geat

His Ber­lin ate­lier houses one of the most im­por­tant col­lec­tions of spi­der’s webs in the world – which is per­haps on­ly nor­mal gi­ven that Ar­gen­tine ar­tist Tomás Sa­ra­ce­no, born in 1973, has be­come fa­mous for the spi­der’s webs that he ex­hi­bits in open me­tal cubes. Pa­ris’s Pa­lais de To­kyo is cur­rent­ly gi­ving him carte blanche.

Fre­quent­ly ex­hi­bi­ted in the world’s most pres­ti­gious mu­seums and gal­le­ries, Tomás Sa­ra­ce­no has al­so crea­ted a stir at the K21 Stän­de­haus in Düs­sel­dorf, un­der the glass roof of Par is’s Grand Pa­lais dur ing the COP21 cli­mate confe­rence in 2015, on the roof of the Me­tro­po­li­tan Mu­seum in New York, at the last Bien­nale de Lyon, and now at Pa­ris’s Pa­lais de To­kyo wi th his car te blanche ex­hi­bi­tion ON AIR. The Ar­gen­tine ar­tist, born in 1973, who stu­died ar­chi­tec­ture in Bue­nos Aires, is fa­mous for the spi­der’s webs he ex­hi­bits in open me­tal cubes. With the help of arach­no­lo­gists, he’s spent the past few years put­ting to­ge­ther one of the big­gest col­lec­tions of spi­der’s webs in the world, which is hou­sed in his Ber­lin ate­lier, lo­ca­ted in a for­mer Ag­fa fac­to­ry. The for­mal di­ver­si­ty in spi­der’s webs is as­to­ni­shing: ar­ched, um­brel­la- sha­ped, or so­me­times just a single thread. Sa­ra­ce­no of­ten shows them in dra­ma­ti­cal­ly dark ligh­ting condi­tions that ma­gni­fy eve­ry de­tail of their cra­zy ar­chi­tec­ture.

Some of these webs have made their way to the Pa­lais de To­kyo so that the spi­ders who live in them can climb in­to them and take pos­ses­sion of them – over ten spe­cies have been spot­ted. Gui­ded vi­sits are on of­fer, and a map has been drawn up to al­low ex­plo­ra­tion of eve­ry nook and cran­ny. The Pa­lais’s spaces have been trans­for­med in­to a vast ex­pe­rien­tial ter­rain, which is punc­tua­ted by large im­mer­sive ins­tal­la­tions which re­qui­red life- size mock- ups to be made in Sar­ce­no’s work­shop. Among them there is an in­ter­ac­tive sound piece ba­sed around the pat­tern of spi­der’s webs – which is re­mar­ka­bly si­mi­lar to that of neu­ro­nal net­works –, and ano­ther that mixes pro­jec­tions of land­scape pho­to­graphs, po­ly­he­dral struc­tures ins­pi­red by moss, as well as spheres caught in nets that are re­mi­nis­cent of hot- air bal­loons.

Just like a spi­der at the centre of his web, Sa­ra­ce­no pulls on his

dif­ferent ar­tis­tic strings, ra­ther like the black wi­dow spi­der which uses no less than se­ven sorts of thread to weave its traps. For him, art is an open and mul­ti- dis­ci­pli­na­ry ter­ri­to­ry, and the chal­lenge is to be an ar­tist but wi­thout en­ti­re­ly de­fi­ning what exact­ly art is, re­mai­ning in the di­se­qui­li­brium of his on­going re­search. At the be­gin­ning of the sum­mer he led a work­shop near La Villette with the goal of get­ting one of his ligh­ter­tha­nair sculp­tures to fly through the simple ef­fect of the heat of the sun. In­deed a large part of his work can­not be seen in mu­seums, consis­ting as it does in out­door events that har­ness the ele­ments. Sa­ra­ce­no has al­so in­ven­ted a slight­ly cra­zy means of trans­por t, in the form of so­lar­po­we­red hot- air bal­loons. For his Ae­ro­cene pro­ject, as he’s cal­led it, the ar­tist has made a web­site that al­lows si­mu­la­tions of such jour­neys ac­cor­ding to real wea­ther condi­tions, rea­li­zed in part­ner­ship with NA­SA, France’s Centre na­tio­nal des études spa­tiales and al­so MIT. But des­pite its prac­ti­cal di­men­sion, Ae­ro­cene is an ar­tis­tic pro­ject that takes on dif­ferent forms, at once a way of com­mu­ning with the en­vi­ron­ment and of fin­ding a new sen­si­ti­vi­ty to the world that sur­rounds us. The chal­lenge for Sa­ra­ce­no at the Pa­lais de To­kyo is to present the full breadth of his work and de­mons­trate all the po­ten­tial of his “rea­li­zable uto­pias.” ON AIR, Car te Blanche à Tomás Sa­ra­ce­no, Pa­lais de To­kyo, Pa­ris, 17 Oc­to­ber 2018 to 6 Ja­nua­ry 2019.

Just like a spi­der at the centre of his

web, Tomás Sa­ra­ce­no pulls on his dif­ferent ar­tis­tic strings, ra­ther like the black wi­dow spi­der which uses no less than se­ven

sorts of thread to weave its traps.

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