Ernesto Neto’s installations ache of a strange dreamy womb I’m sleepwalking towards, one that promises 100 years of hibernation, an extended respite that is sensually comforting and yet also terrifying claustrophobic. It’s a peculiar feeling– a mushy feeling, a propelling and repulsive feeling, or push and pull, that I can’t stop leaning into.
I am not my body, yet I am my body.
Unintentionally echoing motifs in David Cronenberg’s psychological horror films, Neto’s “beyond abstract minimalism” worlds seem to confront the dysfunctional relationship we have with our internal and external selves, and the weeping orifices that connect us to one another on a physical and emotional level. Each path is carved viscerally, interactively– ideally, playfully, but admittedly, horrifyingly in our own image, resembling internal organs and wads of flesh and goo. We are attracted to this, and this attraction is disturbing.
Of his work, and perhaps of this feeling I’m describing, in an interview with Bill Arning, Neto states, “Do you understand the word sacanagem? It’s a Portuguese word that does not translate well. It is beyond flirting. It’s after that, in that moment when both of your faces change into something else because the erotic charge is so high, when your bodies move towards each other. I wanted the work to manifest sacanagem without talking about it. It’s all subtextual. My work is first and foremost a contemporary sculpture; it speaks of the finite and the infinite, of the macroscopic and the microscopic, the internal and external, by the masculine and feminine powers, but sex is like a snake, it slithers through everything.”