artist / participant

press release

In his installations, Ernesto Neto continues the tradition of Brazilian modernism, an approach strongly characterised by the viewers’ presence and participation. Through his art, Neto offers a moment of respite from the bustle of everyday life, calming the mind and tuning the senses.

Neto is intrigued by traditions and rituals of Huni Kuin, particularly by their desire to achieve happiness and harmony in life and to abide by the timeless wisdom of nature.

Installed on the 5th floor in Kiasma, Neto’s new piece contains strong references to the culture of the Huni Kuin, both symbolically and tangibly. Inspired originally by the shape of the head of a boa constrictor, the installation contains elements that Neto has been using in his work for more than 20 years: the unity of humanity and nature, sensuousness, experientiality and the production of positive energy.

The exhibition also reflects Neto’s views on respecting the rights and traditions of indigenous peoples and the appreciation of cultural difference.

Organised by Kiasma, the exhibition comprises works from 2009 to 2016 and is Neto’s first solo exhibition in Finland. Individual works by Neto have been shown in Kiasma previously in group exhibitions.

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The Huni Kuin (known also as the Kaxinawá) are one of the indigenous peoples living in the Amazon rainforest. The people has about 8,000 members spread in village communities in the state of Acre in northwest Brazil. Huni Kuin means ‘true people’.

Starting in the 19th century, contact with the majority population of Brazil and Peru led to the enslavement of the Huni Kuin and to widespread destruction of their culture. Like many other indigenous peoples, the Huni Kuin fight for their land rights and for the preservation of their traditions. Collaboration with Ernesto Neto is one way for them to make their voice heard.

Connectedness with the natural environment and a vital force drawn from unity with other living things are at the very core of Huni Kuin culture. Shamans (pajé) are able to communicate with natural phenomena, animals and plants by changing shape.

Ernesto Neto has in recent years studied the life of the Huni Kuin in depth and has attained the trust of the community. He makes Huni Kuin culture known through his art.