Tired of spending your days aimlessly trawling the Internet but struggling to find a different kind of web to distract yourself from the real world? Well, now you’re in luck – Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno is bringing a new installation of thousands of spiders’ webs to the MAMBA in Buenos Aires, with the help of seven thousand arachnids.
The Tucumán-born artist’s new exhibit, made up of thousands of silken webs illuminated by LEDs, is entitled “Cómo atrapar el universo en una telaraña” (“How to trap the universe in a web”) and its two interconnected installations will represent his first large-scale exhibition in Argentina.
It has taken seven thousand Parawixia bistriata spiders, a species from the north of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, six months to construct their fragile works of art, using about 40 thousand filaments to create each silk thread. The webs will fill the first of the rooms of the exhibition in the MAMBA, but, in case you were worried that you’d leave the museum with spiders crawling up your jeans or down the back of your shirt, the tiny artists have now been returned to their natural habitat. Saraceno, who is normally based in Berlin and has been fascinated by arachnids for years, has insisted that he did not “use” the spiders, who worked tirelessly every night on a diet of live crickets (ew!), but instead they are “co-authors” of the work.
While the shimmering threads may be aesthetically pleasing (if a little eerie), there is more to this installation than just its visuals. The artist has explained: “This work is also meant as an invitation for collaboration, cohabitation and transformation: when we become social animals, we can do things very differently to how we normally do.”
Using just its own body, the spider is able to build its home, simultaneously performing a seduction ritual for females and males of its species. [Parawixia bistriata spider to friend: “I met my last husband on the web.”] Of course, the artist is not suggesting that humans literally start building houses out of their own bodily excretion – don’t think that flirting technique would work on me personally anyway – but rather he is posing a more philosophical question to his audience: “How much of the man-made world can be considered part of us, like the spider and its web?” And, moreover, “How much of the world that we create is linked to essential experiences, symbolically powerful, for man?”
In the second gallery, Saraceno’s aim is to create a kind of symphony, an orchestration of different elements, using the movement of cosmic dust. Using special lamps, the artist invites the visitors to observe the natural movement and the trails that the dust leaves in the air. “Cosmic dust connects the entire universe – everything we know so far, except the black matter we have yet to discover – it links planets, humans, spiders,” explained Saraceno.
Visitors will play an important role in this part of the exhibition, as human movement itself will generate more turbulence in the air, amplifying the movement of the dust – likewise, any spiders living in the museum will have their time to shine. The idea is that we all become composers of the symphony and we can observe the relationships that are established and just how influential an ecosystem can be.
The opening is tonight (Friday 7th April) at 7pm at MAMBA, Av. San Juan 350, and Saraceno will be giving a talk beforehand, open to the public, which will start at 6pm. If you can’t make it tonight, Buenos Aires’s Museum of Modern Art unbolts their doors Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 7pm, and from 11am to 8pm on the weekends and feriados. Entrance costs AR $20, but is free on Tuesdays!