Oh, how I love a good arty slideshow (much better than an online video for me, for some reason), especially when it details a truly original and wonderful art installation called Anthropodino that involves sewing, spices, stretch tulle, hand embroidery, lots of masculine/feminine dualities and a wild-haired Brazilian artist. The artist is Ernesto Neto and Ken Johnson wrote the review for the New York Times, with the juicy title of "Into the Embrace of a Great Spicy, Gauzy Mother." There are more details on the construction from "Hey, Drill This! Park Avenue Armory Goes Sci-Fi," by Randy Kennedy, whose text accompanies the slideshow.
Describing the piece as a "biomorphic sculpture," Kennedy says, "Made of hundreds of yards of stretched Lycra tulle, it looks something like a superfine spider web, laden with egg sacks, that has drifted down onto the skeleton of a forgotten species of dinosaur shaped like a cephalopod." Yet within this massive construction are yards and yards of hand-embroidered edging and fabric sacs full of spices acting as natural dye agents, letting rich reds and yellows and ochres seep into the tulle. And then there are bones, perhaps in the spirit of this Mineral Year. One young assistant, stitching underneath layers of tulle, said she felt like a silkworm. (the photo here is the martin margules family collection installation at the 49 biennale di venezia. photo: eduardo ortega, found at designboom.com)
There's a whole school, it seems, of other-worldly Brazilian art constructions; when I worked at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, many years ago, we hosted an installation by Tunga, also from Rio de Janeiro, who worked with human hair (preferably on the heads of twins, and braided together) and lizards and copper wire. Tunga, known for brilliance in the global contemporary art world, and his assistants were as gentle and kind as could be; they were attitude-free, enjoying themselves as only Brazilians can, and very sweet to me, sending me postcards long after their stay in Chicago.
When I had the chance to visit Rio, these strange creations made sense. There are more than three dimensions in Brazil, and it's magical and dangerous and inexplicable and generous there. And very big, just as the works that these artists/shamans conjure.
I leave for Kansas City tomorrow for the Surface Design Association conference; look for blog posts.