Bustling Sensory Creation

A 65-Foot Hand-Crocheted Tree Gives Visitors to Zurich’s Train Station a Full Sensory Experience

Ernesto Neto, “GaiaMotherTree” (2018) at Zurich Main Station, Fondation Beyeler, photo by Mark Niedermann

Brazilian Conceptual artist Ernesto Neto manifests sensorial experiences in highly trafficked public spaces, encouraging passersby to slow down their everyday movements to interact with, smell, and relax in his temporary installations. His most recent work was created in partnership with the Fondation Beyeler in the concourse of Zurich’s main train station. The 65-foot green and orange work, GaiaMotherTree, extends to the ceiling, while its base creates a temporary oasis in the middle of the bustling station.

The sculpture was created with a finger-crocheting technique that took 27 people several weeks to complete. The surface of the structure is fragile, yet like all of his installations, Neto encourages visitors to touch and experience their physical forms. In addition to activating touch, he has also hung over 1300 pounds of aromatic ground spices such as turmeric, cloves, cumin, and black pepper in bags that surround and counterbalance GaiaMotherTree. These smells add to a feeling of relaxation which Neto hopes serves as a respite for visiting travelers.

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