25 February 2020
Palazzo Strozzi is hosting the exhibition Tomás Saraceno: Aria, from 22nd February to 19th July 2020. The exhibition is dedicated to one of the most original and visionary contemporary artists, whose wide-ranging and creative work encompasses a wide range of different disciplines: art, architecture, natural sciences, astrophysics, philosophy, anthropology and engineering. Born in Argentina in 1973, Tomás Saraceno has transformed Palazzo Strozzi for his greatest-ever project in Italy. It is a space for experimentation and engagement that heralds a new chapter in contemporary thinking around the relationship between man and nature. Here the artist has proposed a change of paradigm – no longer man as the centre of the world but man as part of a universe in which a new harmony can be sought – in order to tackle the themes of sustainability, the ecological crisis and global warming.
Saraceno tries to get us to imagine a different epoch, the Aerocene, characterised by a new ecology of practice in which overcoming geographical and social barriers is geared to devising new ways of moving around, living and being together here on earth. In his vision, man will move by floating through the atmosphere, in a aerial nomadism freed from both fossil fuels and the frontiers that cut short our thoughts and existence. The artist has come up with an open, interconnected vision of the cosmos through which the traditional hierarchies between living beings can be annulled and the complex relationships between different phenomena and life forms can be distinguished. The Aerocene epoch is laid out like an interdisciplinary artistic project that poetically and collectively invites us to forge connections with the air in order to break free of the present Anthropocene geological era, characterised by human activity. But it is also a political discourse that revolves around air, colonised, squeezed by regional confines, devastated by harmful materials and radio waves, transformed into an asset for the few.
The exhibition starts with Thermodynamic Constellation, the great site specific installation in the courtyard of Palazzo Strozzi, made of great hanging reflective spheres, prototypes of sculptures capable of shifting all over the world towards a new era of harmony with the air and with the atmosphere. The exhibition then moves to the Piano Nobile, unfolding in a series of immersive, powerful and imaginative spaces, made up of reflective clouds, spider’s webs – Mirror Connectome, Sounding the Air, Webs of At-tent(s)ion, How to Entangle the Universe in a Spider Web?, Particular Matter(s) Jam Session, Aerographies – shapes and atmospheres reminiscent of the cosmos (A Thermodynamic Imaginary) and hanging gardens (Flying Garden).
Spiders and spider’s webs, in particular, represent the main metaphor of the exhibition. The webs spun by various species of spider create hybrid sculptures that make up a shifting landscape – since arachnids are deaf-mute, webs are an extension of their senses and represent their ears, eyes and mouths, as well as their living spaces and humus. Spiders send and receive vibrations through the filaments of the webs and, perhaps, even thoughts. The sculptures on show provide a means for these creatures to connect and dialogue with the world. Employed as narrative devices, like in a Castle of Crossed Destinies set in a parallel universe, Tomás Saraceno’s Arachnomancy Cards guide visitors through the exhibition, at once revealing and concealing the meanings of each of the nine installations and setting up unexpected connections between apparently entirely different elements.
Tomás Saraceno’s invitation and warning is as follows: “Within the context of the current ecological crisis, named the Sixth Mass Extinction, invertebrates such as arachnids and insects are disappearing at an accelerated pace, with major consequences for the environment and ecosystems […] Meanwhile the lack of rights of non-living beings is even more radical in that the extension of natural systems is constantly shrinking, proportionate to intercontinental investments by agricultural multinationals. What stands between us and the sun is controlled by the few and is increasingly compromised. […] Carbon emissions fill the air, particulate matter floats inside our lungs, while electromagnetic radiation envelops the earth […] dictating the rhythm of digital capitalism and global warming. […] Yet a different epoch is possible. […] This requires the development of collective ideals, begging the question of what breathing would be like in an economy free of fossil fuels. […] Ecosystems have to be thought of as webs of interactions, within which each living being’s ecology co-evolves. By focusing less on individuals and more on reciprocal relationships we might think beyond what means are necessary to control our environments and more on the shared formation of our quotidian. Let the spiderweb guide here.”
Tomás Saraceno: Aria
22nd February – 19th July 2020
Palazzo Strozzi, Florence