Giant Reflective Orbs, Spiderwebs, and Air Plants Take Over a Renaissance Palace in Florence

Tomas Saraceno Thermodynamic Constellation

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno continues his exploration of art, life, and science with his exhibition at Florence's Palazzo Strozzi. Aria is a set of immersive installations and experiences that shift humans out of the center of the universe and ask them instead of stand side by side with nature to create a new harmony. Through reflective orbs, spiderwebs, and air plants, Saraceno sends a message that we can't afford to wait any longer to save our ecosystems.

“Carbon emissions fill the air, particulate matter floats inside our lungs while electromagnetic radiation envelops the earth,” states Saraceno. “Yet, a different epoch is possible, an Aerocene epoch—one of interplanetary sensitivity through a new ecology of practice. Ecosystems have to be thought of as webs of interactions, within which each living being’s ecology co-evolves. By focusing less on individuals and more on reciprocal relationships, we might think beyond what means are necessary to control our environments and more on the shared formation of our quotidian. Let the spiderweb guide here.”

Visitors are immediately thrust into Saraceno's world upon entering Palazzo Strozzi's courtyard. Suspended in the air is Thermodynamic Constellations, a set of three orbs that reflect the architecture of the Renaissance palace. The spheres are prototypes for aerosolar sculptures that would roam free without borders and without producing carbon emissions. Their place here is a reminder to think about the possibilities that could open up if we too were free to explore without barriers to impede us.

Other rooms display a variety of experiments. This includes cloud-like formations called Connectome, whose irregular shapes and mirrored surfaces trace the sun's rays, as well as A Thermodynamic Imaginary. This model of a landscape harnesses the unlimited potential of the Sun and sets humans in their place by putting them in scale with the cosmos.

Saraceno also plays with different elements like air in his installation of Flying Gardens. Delicate Tillandsia plants, also known as air plants, are installed in handblown glass spheres suspended from the ceiling. These plants, which have no roots, acquire what they need to survive from the air. In this way, they stand as a metaphor for adaptability and freedom.

The entire journey through the exhibition is centered around Saraceno's Arachnomancy Cards, a set of 33 cards that celebrate the radical interconnectedness of all things, both living and nonliving. Each installation at Palazzo Strozzi is related to a card that creates a thread of interconnectedness. Saraceno's Aria runs until November 1, 2020 at Palazzo Strozzi.

Tomás Saraceno has transformed Palazzo Strozzi into an immersive experience that merges art, life, and science.

Tomas Saraceno Palazzo Strozzi Installation

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Tomas Saraceno at Palazzo Strozzi

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Air Plant Installation by Tomas Saraceno

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Tomas Saraceno Flying Gardens at the Palazzo Strozzi

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Tomas Saraceno Connectome at Palazzo Strozzi

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Tomas Saraceno Connectome at Palazzo Strozzi

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

A Thermodynamic Imaginary by Tomas Saraceno

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Aerographies by Tomas Saraceno

Photo: Studio Tomás Saraceno

Tomas Saraceno Palazzo Strozzi Installation

Photo: Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

Tomás Saraceno: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Palazzo Strozzi.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.

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