2 | -Hi, how’s it going? –Fine, what about you? –I’m, okay, still there? –Yes, we’re still here, where should we go? –I don’t know! You always think you know everything. –Well, I came from you. –That’s what you always believed, but…., 2005
With a title that reads like a dialogue, Neto invites you to enter a scene where anything can happen. This work is a good example of the significance of language in his artistic practice. Sometimes the textual elements are part of the work itself. Other times, as here, the language suggests something about an underlying idea or the starting point for the work.
Like the title, this work has an open, inviting form. Two pieces of furniture stand out against the light red wall-to-wall carpet. Here people can meet, sit down and converse. The work has a simple expression consisting of only a few components, but with it, Neto invites the public to interact in a way that extends beyond a traditional museum or gallery experience.
Already in the 1960s, Brazilian artists such as Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape and Helio Oiticica began developing concepts for social participation in their art. Among other things, they turned towards the popular samba-schools and other arenas for dance and popular culture. The artistic direction was often called ‘Neo-objectivity’, but this label doesn’t define a specific group of artists – instead, it points to a wider social movement. Several works created during this period are based on ideas about social action and public participation; they are art-historical precursors for Neto because they open up for social interaction between the work and the viewer. Meanwhile, noting Neto’s preoccupation with space, we sense Neto’s connection to American minimalists such as Donald Judd. We may also think of the Surrealists’ playful theatrical installations.
The works you see here may also call to mind some of Neto’s contemporaries who work with interactive expressions. Yet while many artists focus less on the physical artwork and instead prioritize social functions and interaction, in Neto’s works, the aspect of handcraft is crucial. The fabric stretched across and throughout the room contains thousands of small knots. The knot is a primary element in Neto’s art. It organically binds the parts together but also ensures a certain flexibility. Regardless of the dimensions of his artworks, the elements holding them together are often fragile. In this way, Neto underscores the human aspect and creates an optimal site for human interaction.