Visitors to Madrid’s Plaza Mayor will be greeted by a dazzling installation by artist Janet Echelman. Known for her suspended thread sculptures, this site-specific fiber art is called 1.78 Madrid and represents the latest work in her Earth Time series that started in 2010. Comprising 600,000 tied knots and 77 miles of twine, this new network is 15 times stronger than steel by weight, but it will gently move if struck by a passing breeze.
Clad in oranges, pinks, purples, and reds, the see-through sculpture electrifies the historic buildings below; Echelman’s work hovers over the plaza’s statue of King Philip III like an electric cloud. Although it descends like a looming alien spaceship, the abstract form gets its title from the number of microseconds that “a day on Earth was shortened as a result of the 2011 Earthquake in Japan.”
Echelman’s installation was installed to mark the 400th anniversary of Madrid. Conceptually, it comments on time—including its passing and its various scales, from a single day to entire centuries. “In the last four hundred years people have gathered at Plaza Mayor to witness bull-fights and Spanish Inquisition burnings,” Echelman said. “Today we gather together with art that explores our concept of time, to discuss ideas. This is a hopeful trajectory for humanity.”
Echelman’s interest in time is particularly geared towards those living in metropolises, who are often swept up in the energy of the urban environment and lack the opportunity for reflection. “I feel a need to find moments of contemplation in the midst of daily city life,” Echelman explained. “If my art can create an opportunity to contemplate the larger cycles of time and remind us to listen to our inner selves, I believe this can be the start of transformation.”
If you’re local to Madrid, 1.78 Madrid is currently available to view until February 19, 2018.