As usual, I review different art and design exhibitions around the world to stay updated. Today I came across one that gave me chills. The Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) in Vienna has recently decided to showcase a “site of healing” art exposition. This installation has been created by the joint effort of Ernesto Neto, a Brazillian artist, and the Huni Kuin, a tribe of indigenous peoples from Brazil and Peru.
As many of Neto´s previous work, the site showcases “fabric- stalactites” that hang like something a gigantic creative spider would have spun. These polyester stocking-like shapes are filled with rice and sand and their impact touches the five senses of the audience. Ernesto has created this piece as a ode to the Huni Kuin tribe for enduring several generations of abuse and yet has managed to protect their culture and preserve their rituals and traditions.
What struck me as amazing, aside from the contrast of the pieces and the architecture, was the impact of this piece: using his personal creative language to communicate the rituals and traditions of the Huni Kuin, the artist translates their ceremonies to an urban and international temple – which is ironic considering the history of the tribe.
As Neto explains: “The Huni Kuin had to create a new culture because they were previously forbidden to exercise it – the rituals, dancing, singing, speaking in their own languages. They had to fight to get back their culture. They had to go to more hidden villages to create the songs, the dances, the pajé, or shamanic knowledge. And this was very important, because this gave them the power, energy, and self-confidence needed to kick out the white people.”
I think this is particularly interesting as many modern cultures are quietly suffering an indirect “abuse” against their tradition as the media and the web impose a western perspective. Don´t get me wrong I am not only in favour of globalization but a product of it, but I do believe that each culture should aim to preserve the core of their identity to maintain that unique diversity that provides beauty and inspiration to the world. The more we are homogenised, the more we will be forced to hide away in villages and re-create our old traditions – eventually.
What is the fun to travelling to places if there were nothing new to see? In my humble opinion we must fight to preserve.