FREDERIKSBERG, Denmark – To visit artist Tomas Saraceno’s latest installation, punters sail underground on a boat with a small light for an experience that urges visitors to question our relationship with the world and the future of the planet.
Set in Cisternerne, an old municipal water tank located under a hill and converted into a museum decades ago, Event Horizon is a spectacular multi-sensory experience.
The gallery, which has been part of the Frederiksberg Museums since 2013, near the Danish capital, is the only stalactite cave in Denmark where due to its ancient walls water continues to seep through.
The title of the show alludes to a concept in astrophysics that names a region of space-time that marks a point of no return where the gravitational pull makes any escape from a black hole impossible.
“As humans find themselves on the precipice of a point of no return on this planet, we should urgently learn to become, just like spider-webs, more sensitive to that which is at first unreadable and inaudible,” Saraceno says in the exhibition catalog.
Saraceno has filled the room with recognizable elements, recurrent in his work, like planets and a three-dimensional spider-web all suspended in mid-air.
The show is a metaphor for the climate crisis and the exploitation of resources by humanity and the Argentinian artist invites viewers to search for solutions in nature.
“In a world in which anthropogenic ‘natural’ disasters run rampant, water stands at times as more foe than friend,” the artist explains.
A video installation of a water-spider, an animal able to adapt to both aquatic and terrestrial environments, serves as a symbol of what humans should be aiming for.
Spiders are one of the recurring elements in Saraceno’s works. His Berlin studio has an entire floor dedicated to the insects and the creator has long been fascinated with their collective way of working and their capacity for adaptation, an idea that he has repeatedly turned to in his work.
The fragility of the environment and humanity, as has become evident during the coronavirus pandemic, is recreated by forcing the viewer to navigate the exhibition on a boat, an experience that limits visitors’ full control over their movements.
The atmospheric experience is enhanced by haunting background music and the amplified sound of the movement of the water and currents caused by the boat, through a microphone located below it.
Event Horizon, which runs until November, should have launched two and a half months ago, but the COVID-19 lockdown delayed the launch and also prevented Saraceno from seeing the end result.
Visitors have to reserve to visit the exhibition with a maximum of two viewers per boat.
“The virus has forced everyone to think deeply about how to navigate, interact and behave. COVID-19 is the latest reminder that humanity is not invincible,” director of the museum Astrid la Cour says.