Epilogue VII: The Gold and Silver;
Epilogue VIII: The Crates, 2021

Installation view: Cotton Under My Feet, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain. 2021
Photo: Moritz Bernoully | TBA21

Ten pigmented inkjet prints
54 x 61.5 cm (each, framed)
Commissioned by TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

Wood, polystyrene foam, paint
120 x 90 x 15 cm (each)
Commissioned by TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

Commissioned by TBA21 and specifically conceived for the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the exhibition/performance “Cotton Under My Feet” presented work created during Walid Raad’s three-year exploration of the museum’s collection, archives, and genesis. Mobilizing stories and premonitions around the collection, Raad presented imagined and hidden episodes, tangled connections, and alternative conservation protocols in his exploration of various historical collective realities surrounding the acquisition of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection by the Spanish State in 1992. The result is a non-linear narrative body of work that incorporates installation, performance, photography, and video. 

These photographs were taken by Lamia Antonova in the early 1980s. As you can see, each object is surrounded by an arthropod. One object has flies, and only flies. Another object has spiders, and only spiders. And so on. Antonova discovered that ten cups in Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza’s gold and silver collection attracted only one kind of arthropod and repulsed all others, as though each object emitted a specific chemical or electric signature. As if this was not strange enough, it also turns out that the flies, bees, slugs, and spiders seem to come out nowhere. Actually, they don’t seem to come out nowhere. They literally came out of nowhere. Antonova noticed that whenever she took the objects out of their custom-made cases (the foam crates exhibited on the opposite wall) to display or to photograph, within seconds, and out of nowhere, the arthropods irrupted. You can imagine this really rattled Antonova. Where are the beasts coming from? It took Antonova seven years, and another strange event to figure this out.  – Walid Raad