Ernesto Neto

Ernesto Neto, a Brazilian artists who creates environments which have strong connotations with the ‘human body’ and the ‘womb’ (Figure. 5 and Figure. 6). With his work he creates multimedia environments where he does not only want the viewer to look with their eyes, but also with their noses and hands. In 1997 Neto ‘filled the weighted ends of his works with fragrant spices, so that the viewers physical interaction with the work was replaced by a direct olfactory engagement that was surprisingly potent’ (Neto,2000:p13). Neto’s work encourages the viewer to play and interact with the ‘engorged membranes of translucent fabric’ (Bishop,2005:p64). ‘Membranes’, the words people use to explain his dream like structures are to do with the body. His structures are like a tour guide around your own system where you are promoted to relax and go in to your own personal dome. M. Schwartzman explains how the ‘installation starts far outside the gallery, with the first whiff of turmeric, cumin, ginger, black pepper, clove or lavender’ (2011:p84) The sculpture calls out for you from the very beginning, before you know it you are connecting with the rich sense of the spices, it entices you in. While you follow the path of scent it slowly gets stronger, once you reach your destination and enter the installation the smell of spice overpowers you. You become ‘unconscious, to the continuity of time and memory.’ As described by Ventos, ‘close connections to states of consciousness, emotions and fantasies. The strong reactions that smell evokes are free from the burden of duties and obligations'(Ventos,2011:p23), once you enter the cave of your body you forget any past worries and explore like a child, interacting with the environment with care and curiosity. Neto’s use of spices aims to entice you in and blind you from your visual temptations, he creates an orgasmic environment where the viewer is tempted to interact and squeeze the nylon shapes while the spices release on to the floor. The spices are the symbol of the rich, they are exotic. However this is the richness of the space, they clarify the importance of the body and ourselves, the aromatic spices represent the space as a palace. We walk into this installation with the idea of what spice represents to us and by doing so it controls us, although it allows us to wander off and imagine and go deep in to our own thoughts we understand what spice represents. From our own associations with the smell we know not to act wild and loud within the space, but to glide and connect with it like it’s our own home, ‘such memories are material in consciousness, or in the case of repression, the unconscious knowledge, of our physical experiences’ (Stewart,2005:p59), our memories and connections with certain environments and smells affect our actions.

Ernesto Neto, Fishing the Time (1999) ernesto neto, the edges of the world


Neto,E, 2000, Ernesto Neto. London and Dundee: ICA and Dundee Contemporary Arts

Bishop,C,2005, Installation Art. London: Tate Publishing

Stewart,S.2005, Remembering the senses. In: D, Howes, ed. 2005. Empire of the sense, The sensual culture reader. Oxford: Berg publishers. Ch.03.

Ventos, E. 2011. The World of Smell. In: C, Massip, ed 2011. Smell. Colour, Chemistry, art and pedagogy. Barcelona: Actar publishers. Ch.03


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