Doug Aitken’s Sonic Pavilion

EVEN BEFORE I KNEW I would be going to Brazil, I had begun reading Conquest of the Useless, Werner Herzog’s journals during the making of Fitzcarraldo (1982). Had I been reading something else, I’d perhaps have been less attuned to the pervasive sense of folly I encountered at Inhotim, the sprawling botanical/art paradise in Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais that mining magnate Bernardo Paz has established to display a small portion of his world-class collection of art.* To say he has spared no expense is to vastly underreport both the magnitude and the aspirations of the place. Paz employs three curators, led by New York–based Allan Schwartzman and including Jochen Volz (recently artistic organizer of the Venice Biennale) and Rodrigo Moura, who have recently augmented an already overwhelming array of art with nine large-scale commissions, all inaugurated this year.

Inhotim, which

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