Como atrapar al universo en una telaraña

Tomás Saraceno’s Como atrapar al universo en una telaraña installed the world’s largest spider web in the second floor of the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires. And it’s breathtaking. Literally, they tell you when you enter que es prohibido soplar. The delicate silk threads are separated from museumgoers by courtesy alone. It’s vivifying, like the edge of a crowded subway platform, or bowling without bumpers, or a first date. No plastic, no glass, just exquisite wisps of silver suspended in a vacuum. The web is the spiders’ art; trust is Saraceno’s. I place this in your care, knowing it is fragile and ephemeral, and without any way of knowing if you’ll cherish it like I do. I mount this knowing the work will be destroyed when the exhibition closes and there is nothing I can do about it. I put my name on this and display it for all to see with pride and joy not because it will last, but because it is beautiful for as long as it does. I trust you to see that.

In the basement there was a complementary installation: light aimed at a spider web, scattering dust visible in the projection on the far wall, the particles’ movements transformed into music by the vibrations of museumgoers shuffling about in the darkness. A darkness that required uninterrupted night vision, a spectacle barely visible to the naked eye and completely imperceptible to the cellphone camera. I lay there mesmerized by the windy chiming lullaby and the dancing dust on the wall, which could have been bugs rising up from a prairie, or bubbles under the ocean, or stars disappearing as a ship hurtled into the sky. An elemental, communal reverie that Saraceno trusted us to make, because when our movement stops, so does the song. He sees the cosmos in spider webs and human society and astrophysics, and that’s what he wants us to weave together for him. I see the cosmos in his generosity. Do with this what you will, I trust you to respect its beauty.

When the museum closes, and the staff lock up the shut-off camera behind them, and the dust keeps settling but no one hears the music, and when the exhibition closes, and the webs are cleared, and nothing remains but the suspension cables, that trust will still have been worth it.

That trust is always worth it. A few months of art, even a few minutes, is worth it. The energy it takes to spin that silk is worth it. The time it requires to let your eyes adjust is worth it. Beauty is worth it. I trust you to see that.

Published by Catherine Addington

I am a translator from Spanish to English and a writer on saints, myths, and icons in both religious and secular contexts.

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