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In Pictures: See Crowds Lose Themselves in Artist Tomás Saraceno's Immersive Spiderweb Environment at the Shed

In Pictures: See Crowds Lose Themselves in Artist Tomás Saraceno’s Immersive Spiderweb Environment at the Shed

Ever wondered what it would be like to live the life of a spider? For eight minutes at a time, visitors to the Shed in Manhattan can climb onto a giant trapeze-like installation that simulates the vibrations of a spider spinning its web underneath you. A soundtrack plays in the background featuring the amplified sounds of spiders communicating with one another and moving in their surroundings.

The experience is the main feature of “Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s),” the artist and activist’s largest U.S.-based exhibition, on view through April 17. The installation, commissioned by the Shed and titled  extends across the entire 17,000-square-foot McCourt space, with other works by the artist taking over the second- and fourth-level galleries.

“At the heart of Tomás Saraceno’s work is a new way of inhabiting and
experiencing the world, one that centers on an ecologically post-fossil fuels future,” Shed curator Emma Enderby said in a statement. “Tomás presents the necessity to reevaluate how we perceive and operate in the world and what to expect from it, which he achieves through interconnected, nonhierarchical collaborations across the human and nonhuman.”

Tomás Saraceno, We Do Not All Breathe the Same Air (detail), (2019–22). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Photo courtesy the Shed.

The artist’s concerns with “activating ideas toward post-fossil fuel life on Earth” have led him to enact many long-term projects that are both a call to action for like-minded activists, and analyses of how different demographics are affected by climate change.

In the work  Saraceno was inspired by medical ethicist Harriet A. Washington to conduct research on the uneven distribution of pollutants based on geopolitical affiliation and race. In the iteration of the work on view at the Shed, the artist collected filter tapes from regulation agencies in the U.S. to find the highest concentration of pollutants by region. Described as “readymades created by the atmosphere itself,” the paper strips capture particulate matter, otherwise invisible, to help visualize the unseen forces in the atmosphere.

Another highlight is the DIT (Do-It-Together) sculpture , a pulsing accumulation of plastic bags—a patchwork of capitalist consumption reclaimed and transformed into art. The sculpture, made of thousands of bags from more than 30 countries, floats in the air without fossil fuels, modeling a world that Saraceno is hoping to help build.

Tomas Saraceno: Photo: Robert Rieger.

Tomas Saraceno. Photo: Robert Rieger.

Installing

Installing “Free the Air: How to hear the universe in a spider/web,” 2022. © Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2022.

: Tomás Saraceno, A Thermodynamic Imaginary, (2020).Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Tomás Saraceno, A Thermodynamic Imaginary, (2020). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and Neugerriemschneider.

Tomás Saraceno, Printed Matter(s), (2018). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa; Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Courtesy the Shed.

: Tomás Saraceno, A Thermodynamic Imaginary, (2020).Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Tomás Saraceno, Webs of At-tent(s)-ion (detail), (2020).e. Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; spider/webs; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Photo courtesy The Shed.

Tomás Saraceno, How to entangle the universe in a spider/web?, (2020). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist and Aerocene Foundation; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa; and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Courtesy The Shed.

Tomás Saraceno, Free the Air: How to hear the universe in a spider/web, (2022). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Commissioned by The Shed. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; and Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa. Courtesy The Shed.

Tomás Saraceno, Free the Air: How to hear the universe in a spider/web, (2022). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Commissioned by The Shed. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; and Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa. Photo courtesy The Shed. 

Tomás Saraceno,  (2022). Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Commissioned by The Shed. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; Neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Andersen’s, Copenhagen; Ruth Benzacar, Buenos Aires; and Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa. Courtesy The Shed.

Tomás Saraceno and Aerocene, Museo Aero Solar (detail), (2007-). Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy Aerocene
Foundation. Photo courtesy The Shed.

Tomás Saraceno, A Thermodynamic Imaginary, (2020).Artwork © Studio Tomás Saraceno. Photo: Nicholas Knight. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles; and Neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Tomás Saraceno, Museo Aero Solar (2007-). Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy Aerocene Foundation.

Tomás Saraceno, Museo Aero Solar (2007-). Photo: Nicholas Knight, Courtesy Aerocene Foundation.


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