15 | O Blow Ba / Só So prá, 2009
The camera pans a lunar landscape. Beautiful instrumental music enhances the feeling of being on a different planet. Gradually the picture zooms out and a man comes into view. He leans over a table covered with white powder. The powder seeps from two large sack-like forms. We recognize Neto’s ‘copulas’, that is, his textile sculptures filled with spices. The colour and aroma cannot be conveyed by the black-and-white film, but we do seem to come into close contact with the powdery substance seeping from the sculptures and filling the room.
The camera zooms in on the man who blows his warm breath on the white powder. He blows, breaths and sweats. His warm breath creates rivulets in the ethereal substance. A pattern draws itself against the background and the powder whirls into a pillar of cloud. Breathing is audible and visible. It’s as if the man’s body and vital breath become an instrument, a bellows blowing life and movement into the material before him. The artist’s body fuses with the process, and the process becomes the work itself.
With this film, Ernesto Neto draws us into the core of his artistic project. Our attention is drawn to details and bodily presence. The expansive landscape is conjured through basic breathing exercises. The body’s primary functions are explored and exploited to the fullest. The process is what is important, not the result. Thus the film touches on the point of inception for all Neto’s works, stressing the proximity between sculptural problematics and physical, human experience.