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Ernesto Neto about his work "Enquanto a cultura nos separa, a natureza nos une" (While Culture Moves Us Apart, Nature Brings Us Together), created for the Sharjah Biennial 11 in 2013.
[Text published in the catalog of SB11]
This piece came to me when I was in the Sharjah desert. I saw a mirage that I couldn't understand - I don't know if it was a human figure with some kind of veil or an architectural construction with a dome in the centre.
Later that night, I had a dream. I was in the desert, and the whole landscape was just sand. It was night time, and a pink star became brighter and brighter, until the day came, and I realised that the star was a person. I guess a woman, coming down from the sky. She landed on her feet in the desert, and then she was slowly swallowed by the sand, until her heart had touched the ground. I was just a spirit - I had no body, no eyes, no nose - but she had two strong and gentle eyes, and suddenly she blinked and disappeared, like a gas on the wind. Left behind was a transparent net, as if still covering her head and shoulders. I began to move, rolling like a stone, getting closer to the structure. Hanging in the centre of the dome was something like a flower stigma, from which water fell continuously, creating a pond in the desert.
Suddenly, an egg of ice emerged from the lips of the stigma, and - plop - it fell down into the pond. Thirteen hours later there appeared a grass never seen before on this planet, and little by little it began to grow, spreading out faster and faster. Other vegetables began to pop up: a tree here, a bush there, forests, fruits, flowers and later, some animals - little ones, then bigger ones, birds, mammals, insects. After the silence of the vast sand, the landscape became full of colours and sounds. Before sunset, the alive grass touched me - I mean, it touched my spirit - and suddenly I had a body, brown curly hair, brown eyes. I'd always felt that I was a man, but until then I had no body and senses; I didn't understand what a body was, and how life could be so good. Like all the other animals, I began to run around. There were many little lakes, and it was so good to taste the water! The pond was so big now that I couldn't see the other side, and it was full of seaweed, anemones and fish. The reflection of the sun on the water made me jump in, and I discovered that unlike the other lakes, this one was salty. When I turned back, I saw a woman with green nails looking at me. Before I could talk to her, I was woken up: "Good morning, sir, we are arriving. Please bring your seat to an upright position and fasten your seat belt."
* 1964 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives there.
1997 Escola de Artes Visuais Pargua Lage, Rio de Janeiro
Ernesto Neto draws inspiration from the biomorphic and modernist abstraction of Alexander Calder and Constantin Brancusi, as well as from the conceptual, social and performative installations of his Brazilian predecessors Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica. His works incorporate a combination of commonplace and organic materials - stockings, spices, sand and shells among them - engaging the senses and inviting visitors to interact both with the artwork and with each other.
Neto's recent exhibitions include solo shows at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, Texas, USA (2012); Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterrey, Mexico (2011); Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2011); Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2010); and Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo, Norway (2010). In 2001, he represented Brazil at the Venice Biennale, Italy.
Enquanto a cultura nos separa, a natureza nos une (While Culture Moves Us Apart, Nature Brings Us Together). 2013
Crochet with polyester rope, ice, stones, plywood, grass, fiberglass, water, clay and wood connectors, and loam
486 x 1,024 x 1,024 cm
Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation
Presented at Sharjah Biennial 11
13 March - 13 May 2013
United Arab Emirates
Internat. Architecture Exhibition, 22 May - 21 November 2021. Curator: Hashim Sarkis.
59th International Art Exhibition, 23 April - 27 November 2022. Artistic Director: Cecilia Alemani.