Critics’ Picks

View of “Ernesto Neto and the Huni Kuin: Aru Kuxipa / Sacred Secret / Sagrado Segredo,” 2015.


Ernesto Neto and the Huni Kuin

TBA21 - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
Köstlergasse 1
June 25–October 25

Lavender, basil, cloves, turmeric, and chamomile: This blend gives off a delicate fragrance that wafts through this well-orchestrated exhibition and beyond the museum’s walls into Vienna’s Augarten. Ernesto Neto’s collaboration with the Huni Kuin, or Kaxinawá, people of Brazil and Peru announces itself with small woven objects hanging from the ceiling and lying on the floor. The artist has transformed the central gallery of the exhibition into a place of contemplation with NixiForestKupiXawa, 2015, a tent of bright knotted cotton ribbons that serves as a gathering place. In the room’s center hangs CanoeKeneJaguarPataLampLight, 2015, a chandelier of droplets bristling with lavender, cloves, and turmeric. In the soft light and play of the shadows cast by the tent, one is invited to a ritual and collective celebration.

Neto’s exhibition is thoroughly structured on collaboration: between himself and the Huni Kuin elders, shamans, and youth who were invited to public events connected to the show, between his visual language and theirs, between a private art institution in Central Europe and the visitors to the exhibition. One cannot withdraw from this moment of communality as an observer—not only because of the architecture of the show but also, above all, because the sweet aroma permeates every corner and crevice of the space and accompanies one far beyond the visit to the exhibition.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.