Rivane Neuenschwander at Irish Museum of Modern Art

Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other
Irish Museum of Modern Art
16 November 2011 – 29 January 2012

Rivane Neuenschwander
A major mid-career survey of the work of leading Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander opens to the public in the New Galleries at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) on Wednesday 16 November 2011. Covering the period since 2000, Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other highlights the artist’s unique contribution to Brazilian Conceptualism and reveals a wide-ranging interdisciplinary practice, which includes painting, photography, film, sculpture, collaborative actions and participatory events.

A variety of elements inform Neuenschwander’s work – the nature of time, the fragility of life, cycles of existence and the delicacy of human exchange. Motifs such as circles and ovals are of primary importance, together with drops of water, bubbles, hole-punched confetti, constellations and cascading zeros. These act sometimes as soundtracks or symbols of fragility, trail markers or life sources, symbols of the natural world or the feminine principle. Much of her oeuvre is about measuring passing time, in calendars that both mark the past and anticipate the future. Her maps, whether tracking visitors’ paths through the exhibition or presenting the blurred boundaries exposed to the elements during the rainy season, are about creating new geographies for new explorations.

Throughout her career, Neuenschwander has created participatory art and the exhibition includes three installations involving participation by visitors. The first, I Wish Your Wish, 2003, is based on a tradition at a church in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, where the faithful tie silk ribbons inscribed with their wishes to their wrists and to the gates of the church. According to custom, their wishes are granted when the ribbons wear away and fall off. At IMMA hundreds of ribbons printed with visitors’ wishes from the artist’s past projects will hang from the gallery walls. Visitors are invited to remove a ribbon, tie it to their wrist, and replace it with a new wish written on a slip of paper, in turn generating new ribbons and wishes.

The role of literary sources in Neuenschwander’s work can be seen in another participatory work, First Love, 2005, which takes its title from Samuel Beckett’s novella of the same name. In Neuenschwander’s version a police sketch artist sits with visitors and listens as they describe the faces of their first loves; the sketch artist then produces portraits of these “first loves” to adorn the walls of the gallery for the duration of the exhibition. For the third installation, Walking in Circles, 2000, small halos of adhesive are applied to the gallery floor to pick up dirt from visitors’ shoes, creating a map of the exhibition’s traffic patterns.

The exhibition also contains several series of new paintings and the film The Tenant, 2010, following the journey of a soap bubble as it wanders through a deserted house in a permanent state of suspension. It also includes sculptures made by customers during conversations at bars and restaurants in Brazil.