Critics’ Picks

View of “Tomás Saraceno,” 2012.

View of “Tomás Saraceno,” 2012.

Helsinki

Tomás Saraceno

Helsingin Taidehalli / Kunsthalle Helsinki
Nervanderinkatu 3
August 18–October 3, 2012

To those familiar with Tomás Saraceno’s room-filling, spiderweb-like sculptures, his latest solo exhibition may come as a surprise. While it includes one large-scale thread installation, 14 Billions (Working Title), 2010, the rest evokes as much a biology research center as a traditional art exhibition. The walls are painted black, the lights are low, and the atmosphere is hushed. One large room is dedicated to live spiders, both in small, transparent Plexiglas boxes and in big, open terraria. On display in other rooms are films and large drawings presenting Cloud Cities—Saraceno’s utopian housing projects—as well as vitrines filled with documentation of his extensive collaborations with scientists from biology, astrophysics, and other disciplines.

14 Billions (Working Title), comprising several miles of black polyester thread, is an enlarged model of a web made by a black widow spider. The spiders in Plexiglas tanks are engaged in another task: They are producing hybrid webs by continuing constructions begun by spiders from different species. While we may not be able to grasp all the fine biological details of the spider’s architectural hybrids, these fragile, softly shimmering structures also evoke thoughts of distant stardust and remote galaxies. This brings us to one of Saraceno’s key interests: the formal and structural similarities between what we see in the vastness of space and what we observe inside the small Plexiglas boxes.