Technique and condition

An installation of suspended stockings that float through a transparent membrane filling a whole gallery room and exuding a pungent aroma of the spices contained within.

Tensioned horizontally to all four walls by brightly coloured lacing string, is a three panelled partly transparent, cream coloured pinhole net membrane with large cut and lace edged holes. The net supplied, exclusively by a Brazilian manufacturer, is more commonly used by the hosiery and corsetry industry. The nets used here have been made on straight weave looms of of Polyamid Nylon Spandex Elastomer. Tubes and smaller stockings which also form an important part of the installation are knitted with Polyamid and spandex Elastomer thread on circular weave looms.

The machine stitched perimeters of the panels have looped edging which is used as button holes for 455 buttons hand stitched to one edge of the two outer panels. By this means, the three panels are united into one large horizontal membrane. A random configuration of twenty-one upward projecting tubular stockings of varying colours of cream and peach are machine stitched to the membrane and anchored to the ceiling. Large round, lace edged holes, cut randomly in the membrane, are pierced by twenty-three larger spice filled hanging tubular nets or sacks, which are suspend from ceiling hooks.

The net sacks contain several kilos of spices. The quantities of turmeric, curry, black pepper powder, and powdered cloves varies between 20 to 25 kg for each sack according to their pungency; their location determined by the balance of smell. The heavier and more filled sacks hang from the ceiling almost to the floor. The swollen ends of the tubular sacks are inevitably stained by the powdered spices within; this is a feature Earnesto Neto likes and sees it as part of the’ history’ of the work (Artists interview January 2002). The spice powders seep through the textile tubes onto the floor. The pungency of the aromas will mix and fade over time. To regain the potency, spices can, periodically, be shaken by museum staff. This is achieved by resting the suspended tube sacks on a board and tossing gently.

On acquisition the membranes had numerous small tears and areas of damaged lace edging. The damages were repaired with spare lace supplied by the artist and net purchased in the UK. The membranes may stretch during display but will regain their shape when released from tension. 800 Kilos of the four different spices have to be purchased for the first display and then stored in sealed containers to maintain freshness for each future display.

Sandra Deighton
February 2005