On the occasion of our Focus on ARCOmadrid we interviewed artist Tomas Saraceno.
Tomás Saraceno was born in 1973 in Tucumán, Argentina and he lives and works in Berlin. Tomás Saraceno’s oeuvre is an ongoing research: his floating sculptures, community projects and interactive installations propose and explore new, sustainable ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment.
In 2015, Saraceno achieved the world record for the first and longest certified fully-solar manned flight. During the past decade, he has initiated collaborations with renowned scientific institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute, the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, and the Natural History Museum London. He was the first person to scan, reconstruct and reimagine spiders’ weaved spatial habitats, and possesses the only three-dimensional spider web collection to existence.
Carla Ingrasciotta: Your oeuvre is a mix of the worlds of architecture, natural sciences, astrophysics and engineering. How did you end into art? Could you tell us a bit about your background?
Tomás Saraceno: In my practice I enjoy merging things coming from different realities and I engage with them to enlarge the community linked to contemporary art. I try to explore unknown territories to find possible new ways of understanding our futures.
C.I.: “Cloud Cities” is one of your biggest project and it is strongly related to the sustainable development of the human living environment. Could you tell us about the process of creation of this artwork and about your practice in general?
T.S.: In my artwork I always take into consideration not only the human environment but also the surrounding environments which are related to us. It’s a matter of being aware of this strict relationship: I think that there is a specific interaction between human and nature and we should start to be aware about this relationship and explore how we interact with different realities, how we influence each other in our relation with the sun, the earth, the cosmos, the spiders, the heat, the cosmic dust. We need to enlarge our perspective of human and get into “more than human” worlds. We need to discover the links among these realties, observe, compose and build.
C.I.: Could you explain how did you create the artwork?
T.S.: The artwork we are going to present during ARCO will be the perfect example of how we work and perform. We are showcasing the process of creation of spider webs, we will give space to spiders to work. We will show that and make people look at the spider webs. We have been working on this project for years. We move a hybrid spider web into some sort of fog, a cloud of cosmic dust, to discover and see how this structure is made.
In this specific project for ARCO, we will showcase the result of a collaboration between two different species, investigating the factors that inform the way of building these incredible structures, such as dust, air and other natural elements.
C.I.: This year, ARCO Madrid is giving to the art scene of Argentina a special platform and you’ve been selected as one of the representative artists. Could you tell us about your participation to the fair and the project you will be presenting?
T.S.: Among others, the project also deals with “Cloud Cities”, through which we are exploring the idea of floating in the space, traveling to different places. We are trying to enlarge the understanding of the world from different point of view including perspectives coming from biology, engineering, astrophysics … It’s really important to understand the world from different points of view: from archeology, philosophy, to informatics and technology (see my collaboration with MIT). This is the way to reimagine how many links connect each other.
C.I.: And what about your engagement within the Argentinian art scene?
T.S.: We are having a new exhibition at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires in Argentina and I’m very keen on going back and collaborate with different artists, and with the people we have been working together. I’m curious and happy to be back home and see how we could reinforce certain aspects within the Argentinian contemporary art scene.
C.I.: How is it like working with such a big team as yours? Could you tell us about your life in the studio? How is your typical daily routine?
T.S.: We all have different backgrounds and our stories overlap one another. It’s really nice to see how differently we see and perceive each other’s pieces. We often merge our works and sometimes incredible artworks come up with unexpected and surprising results. Some of these objects are kind of magical…sometimes we just let things happen inside our community
.C.I.: Do you feel more like an artist, a dreamer or a scientific researcher? Do you think that these roles can coexist?
T.S.: Yes, I think so and this happens many times. Art has the power to extend our way of feeling the world. You never know what is really an artwork. To me, anything that evokes something we are engaged to, can be considered an artwork. There are many possibilities to enter a conversation and freely choose what is art for them. Anybody can be an artist, anyone who is part of an artistic discourse. That’s why we should redefine what art is: it’s not just a matter of curators, museums, galleries …is more a matter of diversity.
C.I.: Could you tell us about the new themes you are going to explore in the future?
T.S.: The project I will be presenting at MAMBA is particularly fascinating: we are investigating on the cosmic dust, the multitude of particles that compose the planet Earth.We will give this element a voice, we will play music according to its movement within the exhibition space, we will investigate on the visitors’ experience of breathing it, touching and feeling it.The movement of the particles will produce different sounds depending on the visitors interaction with them: sometimes it will come up as a cacophony, sometimes as a jam session. It’s interesting to see the various results produced. Visitors will become composers, part of the installations itself. Each user will create a complex relationship with this artwork. This is a compassionate way of engaging the artwork and it will be a new way of understanding and be aware of how much we are part of an ecosystem. And since I’m an artist, I’m trying to do artistic practice in an ecological way, but considering not only environmental, but also social and mental ecologies.
- Tomás Saraceno, The Endless Series, 2006. The photographs were taken at Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia with the support of Barbican Art Gallery. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Photography by Tomás Saraceno, 2006
- Tomás Saraceno Aerocene, launches in White Sands (NM, United States), 2015. Courtesy the artist; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Tanya Bonakdar, New York; Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Photography by Tomás Saraceno, 2015
- Tomás Saraceno Aerocene, 2015 During the oceanographic expedition to Solomon Islands upon the invitation of TBA21 Academy. © Photography by Tomás Saraceno and TBA21, 2015
- Tomás Saraceno 32SW/Stay green/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2007 Installation view, Lyon Biennale. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2007
- Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene 10.4 & 15.3, 2015. Installation view, Grand Palais, Paris. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen; Pinksummer contemporary art, Genoa; Esther Schipper, Berlin. © Photography by Tomás Saraceno, 2015