Rivane Neuenschwander investigates nature, language, time, and chance in a practice that spans performance, video, painting, and installation. Born and raised in Brazil, her work is informed by the art movements of that country, particularly Neo-Concretism, with its emphasis on collective participation. In her videos, she engages viewers in complex yet understated narratives and scenarios that reference everyday life in Brazil and playfully imbue the mundane with a sense of the poetic. Her works often combine elements of the natural world with those common to human social interactions.
In Neuenschwander’s video Quarta-Feira de Cinzas/Epilogue (Ash Wednesday/Epilogue), made in collaboration with artist Cao Guimarães, ants––insects so tiny they often seem inconsequential––become the protagonists of a captivating journey. Shot on Ash Wednesday, after the end of Brazilian Carnival, the video follows a colony of leafcutter ants as they traverse the rough terrain of a forest floor, transporting pieces of colored confetti to their underground nest. The video is set to a digitally composed soundtrack that blends ambient natural sounds with the sound of matchsticks dropping onto the floor, which enhances the meditative quality of the diligent labor that unfolds. At times, the ants work together to hoist their load; at others, they appear to fight over these prized possessions. Some rest, while others climb up steep mounds as loose soil shifts beneath them. At the video’s end, we watch the ants descend into the darkness of their nest, perhaps intent to furnish a celebration of their own kind. The video withdraws from the hedonist social affair of Carnival to focus on the intricate communal world of the ants. Their action becomes a mirror of sorts of the revelry; as the ants toil with the confetti—the delicate remnants of fun—one is reminded of the exuberant festivities of Carnival.
Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) received her BA in fine art from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and her MA from the Royal College of Art, London. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London; Museu de Arte do Rio; Linda Pace Foundation, San Antonio; Colby College, Waterville, Maine; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo; Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco; South London Gallery; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Saint Louis Art Museum; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Artpace San Antonio; and the New Museum, New York. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Prospect 4, New Orleans; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; Phoenix Art Museum; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; Art Institute of Chicago; Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo; Jewish Museum, New York; Instituto Inhotim, Belo Horizonte; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Rivane Neuenschwander and Cao Guimarães: Quarta-Feira de Cinzas/Epilogue is organized by PAMM Chief Curator Tobias Ostrander with Ford Foundation Curatorial Fellow Ade Omotosho. This exhibition is presented with support provided by Knight Foundation.