1 | Desiring a horizon of gravity, 2005
White transparent cloth stretches between the walls of the exhibition space. As the title suggests, the cloth can be seen as a horizon, and weights filled with aromatic spice help hold the sheet in balance. The transparent material divides the room in the middle. We must bend down to walk under the stretched cloth. In certain places it’s possible to stick our head over the horizon and take in the landscape of the room. Standing like this – with our head in one field and the rest of our body in another – the experience of our own body in relation to the artwork becomes a key part of the experience. Similarly, the interaction with other people also contributes to shaping our understanding of the work.
We find such horizons in several of Neto’s installations. In some of them, he has made small stairs or ladders allowing us to peek into a world existing above our normal height. This interaction with textiles recalls a work made by a female Brazilian artist often mentioned in connection with Ernesto Neto: Lygia Pape, one of the so-called ‘Neoobjectivists’, was active in Brazil in the 1960s, and created a work in 1968 entitled Divider. It consisted of an enormous white sheet (98 x 98 feet) punctured with small holes. Men, women and children were invited to put their heads through the holes, thus separating them from the rest of their bodies. With their heads liberated, as it were, from their bodies, the people could enter into new relationships with each other.Such sculptural experiments have been significant for Neto’s development and helped shape his understanding of the possibilities of sculpture. Nevertheless, stretched between the museum’s walls, Desiring a horizon of gravity functions differently than Pape’s sheet sculpture because it relates more strongly to the museum’s spatial conditions. Moreover, just as important as our physical participation is the relationship between the stretched-out horizon and the stocking-like forms plunging downwards. Filled with spices and sand, the hanging forms disrupt the perfect horizon simultaneously as they keep the sculpture in balance. The various components are finely tuned to interact with each other, and we also have the opportunity of being part of it.