TOMÁS SARACENO AT THE PALAIS DE TOKYO
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.