Unfolding across several venues and involving the collaboration of hundreds of minds from across the world, the exhibition ‘Aru Kuxipa | Sacred Secret’ expresses the vision of Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto and teachings of indigenous amazonian tribes. Within the TBA21 in Vienna, Neto — together with 37 Jordão Huni Kuin communities — has co-created a place of creative transformation, an investigation into the spiritual nature of objects, and a site of healing. The collaborative journey and the resulting artworks shares the tribes’ sacred forms of expression, art, ritual, and knowledge through oral history, music, drawings, weavings, and everyday objects.
The exhibition opens with ‘A gente se encontra aqui hoje, amanhã em outro lugar. Enquanto isso Deus é Deusa. Santa gravidade’ (We meet each other today, tomorrow in another place. In the meanwhile, God is goddess. Saint gravity). Fashioned from weightless pink and greenish polyamide forms, the various organic shapes are suspended from the ceiling and intertwined in a voluptuous embrace.
The spiritual center of the exhibition is marked by ‘Kupiforesunixawa’, a communal space that hosts spiritual rituals of healing, relaxation, contemplation, and gathering. Crocheted from green, pink, and orange ribbons and spiced with lavender, clove, and turmeric, the tent-like structure borrows the forms of the Huni Kuin’s central place of social and spiritual assembly. Diamond patterns decorate the transparent net membrane, casting shadows of serpent shapes onto the floor. Beneath it, a green marble table from Guatemala is engraved with shapes of the jiboia and a pajé with maraca and holds candles and objects by the Huni Kuin.
Additionally, Una Isĩ Kayawa (the ‘Book of Healing’) compiles descriptions of the 109 plant species used by the Huni Kuin and their applications in various curative treatments — a practice that, for the tribe, must be approached with the greatest respect and thoughtfulness. The exhibition, conceived as a personal tribute to the Huni Kuin, weaves between a space of preparation, to a sacred area of ritual, to a room of study and knowledge, and finally culminates in the community’s multiple voices of myths and songs.
Design: Ernesto Neto / the Huni Kuin tribe
Photography: Jens Ziehe / courtesy of Ernesto Neto
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