Tomas Saraceno at Palazzo Strozzi
The world seen through a cobweb. Arachne’s contemporary revenge
Tomas Saraceno the revolutionary. The Argentine artist featured in Palazzo Strozzi’s spring exhibition (22 February – 19 July), turns his back on the Renaissance and moves man from the centre of the universe to the extreme outskirts, to where he can listen to spiders and converse with the wind. However, Saraceno, who owes his artistic background to many years spent in Italy, has nothing against the Renaissance. He simply turns over a new leaf and views the world from different angles, in which man is just one of the many living creatures populating the earth. And for this to happen, the Vitruvian Man needs to take a step back.
This is the only way to clear the decks, start afresh and see things from a different perspective. That of a spider possibly. His fantastic obsession. An obsession that has accompanied him since he was a boy living in a gloomy spider-infested house in Italy. Those same webs, those vibrant laces fascinated the Argentine architect destined to become a protagonist of contemporary art, particularly the art movement based on the essential principle of eco-sustainability. An obsession the Strozzi’s art director, Arturo Galansino, has chosen to encourage. “Every exhibition requires about five years’ preparation – he points out -. We ask each artist to create an exclusive installation for the Renaissance section. A particularly stimulating environment for Saraceno”. Which, as if in a flashback to his childhood days, he has chosen to entrust to one of the most resilient and ancient living creatures: Arachne, transformed into a spider by the vindictive Athena.
Deaf and dumb, the spider communicates through the creation of intricate cobwebs. Webs as traps, webs for procuring food, webs that predict the future, according to a widespread belief in many countries. Spiders which share our homes and, according to folklore, should be allowed to live, since their death brings bad luck. Creatures we have contradictory relations with because they are both fascinating and repulsive.
Saraceno invites us to reconsider them. He obliges us to look at them with different eyes, by taking . real spiders to Palazzo Strozzi to spin their ethereal sculptures. Having made their debut in Venice, they will be the protagonists of Palazzo Strozzi, enabling the 47 year old South American to create a unique experience that is impossible to repeat. At least not in the same way, since Saraceno allows the spiders to express themselves freely. He creates the environment and they decorate it. It must be remembered that the spiders are alive (Saraceno is a great supporter of wild life preservation) and the work is mainly entrusted to them.
This is the first step towards a hypothetical demolition of all that is “ready-made”. What Duchamp glimpsed in the early 1900s is now overturned by Saraceno.
So, here are his great cobwebs, spun by an extremely wide variety of spiders. The courtyard is filled with huge fluctuating and reflective spheres, the Thermodynamic Constellations leading to the Aerocene, that is to say, a universe freed from human activity. This is not the only provocative statement. Air as an ally of the future. Similarly to the sounds Saraceno creates, thanks to the imperceptible vibrations of the cobwebs. Spiders are unable to hear or speak but these lacy works do so in their stead.