Ernesto Neto’s ‘Boa’: The Magic of the Amazon Transferred to Netting

Federico Tibytt

The Brazilian artist's new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (KIASMA) connects the European public with the lost cultures of the deep Amazon.



Ernesto Neto. 

Ernesto Neto, one of Brazil’s most relevant artists, presents an impressive exhibition of gigantic multi-colored textiles at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (KIASMA). The pieces on view evoke the landscape of the Amazon rainforest in the heart of the Finnish capital. It also invites viewers to reflect on our environment.

For Neto, a work of art does not meet its total commitment without the active participation of the viewer. His exhibitions recreate— in spaces of significant magnitude—an aesthetic rich in textures, aromas, and sound stimuli. The primary objective is to give the public a possibility of connecting sensually with his work.

Top: Flora
Bottom: General view of the main hall of the exhibit.

For the KIASMA exhibition, Neto addresses the concept of spatial design in the shape of boa constrictor’s head, hence the exhibit’s title: Boa.

A set of colorful textiles hanging from the ceiling were installed in the main hall on the museum’s fifth floor. The pieces are next to a large enclosed space shaped like a snakehead. The structure was created using the crochet-style textiles that make up almost the whole installation.

As the visitor goes inside this “tent,” he enters a comfortable reddish enclosure decorated with cushions and small stools, where he can sit and reflect on the piece in a relaxing way.

In turn, the tent relies on other textiles placed on the floor, which symbolize the body of water that is part of the fascinating ecosystem in the Amazon jungle, home of the Huni Kuin culture, a unique community where Neto found the inspiration to create his work.

Top: Ernesto Neto at work
Below: Hammocks

Huni Kuin is an indigenous group living in the border region between Brazil and Peru. The community’s lifestyle is based on the constant search of spiritual wellbeing, a state which—according to them—is only accessible by connecting with nature, and meditation.

Other sections of the exhibition include sculptures in the shape of snakes, hanging hammocks, and very long fabric strands placed on the large windows to achieve an exciting play of light and colors. The display emphasizes the artist’s aim of communicating a vision of the social norms and relationship with the nature of the Huni Kuin.

The numerous multicolored textiles that make up the project were made by hand in the artist’s workshops in the city of Rio de Janeiro and, once transferred to Finland; they were installed by Ernesto Neto himself together with a group of collaborators.

The Huni Kuin is an indigenous group living in the border region between Brazil and Peru.

The exhibition is a valuable opportunity to get to know the original weaving techniques developed by one of the most prominent talents of contemporary Latin American art, and, incidentally, it also connects the European public with the naif charm of the cultures lost in the deep Amazon.

© | 2019