Brazilian conceptual artist Ernesto Neto is renowned for filling public spaces with large-scale, immersive installations that blur the boundaries between the artwork and viewer. For his latest work—created in collaboration with the Fondation Beyeler—Neto created GaiaMotherTree, a giant, 65-foot tree-like crochet structure inside Zurich’s Central Station. The walk-in textile sculpture invites the public to enter via the base, through a myriad of brightly colored, hand-knotted cotton strips to find a relaxing space within.
The contemporary structure, constructed using a traditional finger-crocheting technique, took a team of 27 people several weeks to complete. From the outside, the interwoven, orange and green tree stretches from the floor up to the ceiling, creating a giant fabric canopy. The core “trunk” is counterbalanced by the surrounding crocheted “branches” that have been looped around the station’s ceiling beams. These branches are then weighted with bags containing various aromatic spices such as turmeric, cloves, cumin, and black pepper. The 1,300 pounds of spices scent the exhibition space, enhancing the sensory experience.
Inside, visitors can enjoy a quiet space for meetings and meditation. Neto explains, “The idea is to slow down our time, for us to have time to breathe and feel life inside of us.” The concept for the GaiaMotherTree was inspired by the artist’s time spent working with the Huni Kuin, an indigenous community in the Amazon region of Brazil. Their unique worldview, spiritual connection with nature, sense of community, and knowledge in craft have become integral values in Neto’s recent artistic practice. He reveals, “This work is all about intimacy.”
GaiaMotherTree will be on display in Zurich’s Central Station until July 29, 2018. Discover more of Neto’s work on the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery website.