A multicolored, woven structure hangs like an oversized hammock in Buenos Aires’s brand-new art space, the Faena Arts Center, in the portside Puerto Madero neighborhood. The installation is by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto, created with the assistance of 30 pairs of crocheting hands and more than 40 helpers.
The singular piece is Faena’s inaugural exhibit and fills the entire room. Slung from ceiling hooks, it spreads to cover almost every wall in the white, industrial space. The entrance and exit hover side by side and drop almost to the ground and undulate depending on where and how many people are crawling inside. Neto, who is part of the Brazilian Neo-Concreto movement, was the choice artist to christen the center in part because he creates site-specific work. “[He] tends to treat the space as a totality,” says Jessica Morgan, the show’s curator who is also a contemporary-art curator at the Tate Modern. “His work, designed to stimulate a truly personal access to the experience of art, challenges the superb breadth of the room.” One of the artist’s most acclaimed works is the award-winning 2006 Léviathan Thot, a massive installation of hanging white droplets.
The installation is both satisfyingly whimsical for children and artistically edifying for the adults. The shape evokes memories of play areas at fast-food joints--but only in its biggest, purest, and most imaginative sense. Lying on top of the plastic balls comprising the base and covered with a tie-dyed woven net, one might consider how Neto plays with the physical dimensions of a room, or how his piece is a tactile representation of the intersection of visual arts, design, and architecture. While traversing the work on one’s knees, feet, and hands alongside perfect strangers, one might also consider how each person experiences the piece on both individual and communal levels.
The exhibition (and Faena Arts Center) opened in September 2011. In under three months, 75,000 people had passed through, so the staff took the cue and extended its run. The show is open for play and appreciation through February 12. More information here.