|   Tomás Saraceno: How to catch the universe in a spider’s web

Tomás Saraceno: How to catch the universe in a spider’s web

Posted on Posted in Contemporary Art

As a child I went where I should not-a crumbling barn full of junk-and suffered the sting of a spider. A few days later, near the ankle, he wore an oval that seemed to have something rotten and gelatinous that dried up over time, but the skin never regained its original appearance. In addition to the ugly scar, I was left with a marked phobia that makes fear return even before the most minute specimen of the arachnid genus.


Thus, aware of the character of the expected exhibition of Tomás Saraceno, the first individual in his native country, How to trap the universe in a web, not only disturbed me; I thought about the possibility of not seeing it while self-arguing that it was a more appropriate project for a natural science museum than for an art one. According to the information, the team of the artist and architect worked in collaboration with professionals and scientific institutions and from natural reserves in the north of the country had transferred dozens of groups of colonies of Parawixia bistriata -a spider of social and cooperative habits- and some other species complementary In short, something like 7,000 spiders had been working secretly for about six months in the rooms of MAMBA, performing in work in progress an unusual and unsuspected community construction. They rested during the day, wove and fed during the night.


The author with Adrian Krell, Arachnid Specialist.

The restlessness did not manage to kill the curiosity, discounted that it could be interesting and unusual but I did not imagine that not only I would like, but that I would see a construction that looks contemporary and that adds diversity to the formats in which art is presented. Actually, I was not prepared for what is being shown, it is true that the proposal could be in a natural science room, but it certainly transcends it; It is an interaction between biology, physics and aesthetics that offers an unexpected experience while expanding the limits of the visual arts to other fields.


I am glad that the curatorial team of the museum, led by Victoria Noorthoorn, has been encouraged to face the project, difficult because of the time of realization, random factors and complexity. The unusual network of webs and amount of cobwebs, caught me like some of the crickets that were offered food. Interesting the relationship created with the museum space, a series of labyrinths largely inaccessible to the eye, thousands of natural and beautifully interwoven viscous threads form a giant tangle between transparent and silver, with its four meters high and its silhouette cut out in the exhibition space, which can be observed until exhaustion in its incredible and hypnotic untold details. Complex, labyrinthine and interconnected, triggers the idea of other networks, social, in a current citation. At the same time, it brings us back to the most primitive, to the 140 million years that they exhibit their presence on earth.


Adrian Krell, arachnid specialist, explains that about 41,000 species of the genus are known in the world, and among them there are only around twenty-five that develop in community and that exhibit social and cooperative behaviors. They were looking for this kind of species, which, unlike most, weaves its enormous networks collectively. Perhaps because of its natural appearance and fragility, and although all the information only added to my previous horror, the journey between the canvases was an overwhelming experience that I would like to repeat. After crossing it, I could not escape to visit the other installation, just the one that I did not think to see, where a Nephila clavipes, an important specimen of another size (the only one that was not removed from the museum) free in the room, weaves its network in front of the public and is a participant in the sound proposal. Through algorithms, a network of amplifiers replicates the movements it makes in its orbital fabric, invading space. Particles of the dust that floats in the air are translated to sound when entering, making audible the swings that the spectators produce, when shaking them. Thus, between the movements of the spider, the particles in suspension and the interaction of the visitors, the sound becomes a choral symphony in a sophisticated and poetic cosmological concert, the one dreamed by the artist, the arachnocosmic Orchestra. Like many of Saraceno’s projects, a reflection on the ways in which we perceive the universe.


I recommend with fearful enthusiasm to go through the experiences. The documentary that accompanies the show helps to understand; Maybe what happens to me, that I understood from another place, fear persists but I started a different relationship, another coexistence: I would not want to kill any more.

By Patricia Rizzo

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