Bard Center for Curatorial Studies

As a loop of 16-mm film winds like a haunted model train around a darkened room and through a projector, the projected image shows an endless journey through a curved tunnel outside of Rio de Janeiro. It was fitting that this installation, Ão, 1981, opened the first North American retrospective of work by Tunga, because it merges seamlessly with the intricate, punning narrative that spirals through the Brazilian artist’s oeuvre. A fictional accident inside the tunnel seen in the film, for example, is woven into the network of fantastic events in one of the artist’s published texts.

Despite the importance of language in Tunga’s universe, his objects often demonstrate an aggressive materiality. Palíndromo Incesto (Palindrome incest, 199o), one of several major installations included in the show, comprises huge cups covered with garish copper leaf, circular magnets encrusted with sporelike

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