Installation process for Juan Hidalgo’s work Lanas (Yarns)


To mark the new installations in the permanent Collection in November 2014, the piece Lanas (Yarns) by the artist Juan Hidalgo was assembled. The work, defined by the artist himself as a Zaj environment, was on view for the first time in the German Institute in Madrid in May 1972 to celebrate an end-of-term party, before being exhibited in the Museo Reina Sofía in 2009, in the exhibition The Pamplona Encounters 1972: The End of the Party for Experimental Art.

Description of Lanas

The work is made up of four transparent methacrylate sheets measuring 200 x 200 cm, with a thickness of 2 cm, hung from the ceiling with steel cables forming a square surface of 400 x 400 cm. These plates have 1,600 pieces of yarn in 40 different colours, except black and grey, and 1,600 silver-plated brass jingle bells measuring roughly 4 cm in diameter hanging from them. To fix the yarns to the sheets and bells, 3,200 metal pins are used.

The threads and bells are spread randomly to form a virtual square out of the methacrylate surface, yarns and bells. During the installation, placing yarns with very similar colours and bells at the same height must be avoided. The placement of the methacrylate support is established on the basis of the height of the exhibition room to create a square of approximately 400 cm, which means the distance between these panels and the floor is some 420 cm. The height of the bells is random, with the lowest positioned 10 cm from the floor and the highest 110 cm. In this way, a virtual square and visual interplay is created between the height of the yarns, their colours and the small bells that make up part of the aesthetic attraction of the work.

Unique features in the installation of the work

The complex nature of the assembly lies in the laboriousness of a procedure that must be carried out in successive and well-defined stages.

First of all, four anchoring clips are placed on the ceiling for each methacrylate sheet. The methacrylate sheets are then installed on bases that are 80 cm from the floor to allow access to the holes in each sheet. Next, the pieces of yarn, around 4.5 m in length, are passed through these holes, adding up to a total of 1,600 yarns. On the top part of each sheet the end of each yarn is secured with a metal pin and then underneath the threads of wool are gathered in small balls to avoid them getting tangled.

Once all the yarns have been placed on each sheet, they are raised up to the anchoring clips on the roof with a crane. The weight of the piece as a whole has to be taken into consideration as it adds up to 400 kg, which means that every movement has to be very gentle to avoid the methacrylate sheets being scratched and the yarns tangling. Once the four sheets are anchored and levelled, the balls of yarn are untied, one by one, and a bell is tied to each end with the help of a metal pin. At this point the final composition is decided, as is the height of the bells, which are placed randomly, between 10 and 110 cm from the floor.

This installation process requires the work of 4 operators and one restorer over 4 days. The piece is very fragile and delicate and wasn’t conceived by the artist to be touched or interacted with, which means, as a protective and conservation measure, it is exhibited with stanchion ropes and posts.