Inhotim, Centro de Art Contemporanea, Brumadino, Brazil

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Press Release

Inhotim, Once Again In Large Scale

The Institute inaugurates nine works by nationally and internationally acclaimed

contemporary artists Large-scale works of art that could only be built in a place like Inhotim, located 60 km away from Belo Horizonte, Brazil, will be inaugurated in late September and early October. The new works are by the artists Chris Burden, Doug Aitken, Edgard de Souza, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Jorge Macchi, Matthew Barney, Rivane Neuenschwander, Valeska Soares, and Yayoi Kusama. The opening event has been named ‘Nine New Destinations’ and, according to Jochen Volz, Instituto Inhotim’s Artistic-Director and one of the curators, ‘the idea of destination is the place’s very essence. After all, Instituto Inhotim is not a place one passes by. Inhotim is always a destination.’ Many projects have been developed under the site-specific concept, that is, the artists designed the works making use of the possibilities offered by the place chosen for the assembly. The work starts to be conceived in an interaction among the artist, the setting, the institution, and the possibility of achieving, many times, a dream, as in the Argentine Jorge Macchi’s ‘Piscina,’ in which a two-dimensional watercolor has become, at Inhotim, a three-dimensional swimming pool with steps that refer to a phone catalogue. With the new works, Inhotim broadens the concept of what an exhibition space is. There will be works assembled at the top of a mountain, inside dense woods, amidst eucalyptus trees, and behind a large lake. This is an innovative curatorial proposal and the result of years of teamwork between a great staff and the artists. For the Institute’s Executive-Director, Ana Lúcia Gazzola, the openings reinforce Inhotim’s uniqueness as a contemporary art space unlike practically any other museum in the world. She adds, ‘The expansion of the collection widens the frontiers of Inhotim itself, as they purposely leave the areas cared with landscaping into rougher spaces. The artist can, at Inhotim, create his artistic utopia.’

‘We think and move with the artist, always searching for the right place,’ says Jochen Volz. This moving together makes viable what many times would be unimaginable in a general sense. After all, in what museum of the world would the American Doug Aitken find a mountain to accomplish his ‘Sonic Pavilion’(2009) Amidst the woods of Inhotim, a trail leads the visitor to a monumental building, and therein a 200-meter deep hole allows the sound of Earth to be heard.

In addition to the geographic uniqueness, the artists also deal with the concept of undefined temporality. Some projects take years to be finished, as in the case of the American Matthew Barney’s ‘De Lama Lamina’(2004’2009), begun in 2004. At Inhotim, the artist has no tight schedule. Matthew Barney had a clear image of his project since the beginning. The result of five years’ work is moving.

The work whose installation demanded the least time was ‘The Murder of Crows’ (2008), by Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Inspired by Goya’s etching ‘The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters,’ this work was presented last year at the Sydney Biennial (Australia) and seen by the institution’s curatorship. Whereas in Sydney it was exhibited in a big maritime warehouse, at Inhotim a warehouse with the exact dimensions for assembly has been built.

Would it be possible to see anything in common crisscrossing the nine new works’ Jochen Volz identifies the relation each work establishes with the institution and vice-versa as a first common thread. Besides, he points out the generation issue, since Matthew Barney, Doug Aitken, Rivane Neuenschwander, and Jorge Macchi belong to the same generation, which has been emblematic in the background of Inhotim’s curators. ‘We are opening the nine works together, but each one of them has its own identity. Each one speaks of itself,’ assures Volz.

Before Inhotim’s new works, visitors’ reactions may be the most diverse. For Jochen Volz, in contemporary art all that is worth for any kind of art prevails. But, at times, contemporaneity may touch the individual or not. ‘When the visitor does not feel touched by the work, this is good as well. I see no problem when one says he or she did not like a given work. The work itself is but a proposal. The problem is not wanting to see it,’ warns Volz. For him, contemporary art is not referential to people’s lives; it is related to the questions themselves and about world questions instead. ‘Regardless of the schooling one has had, one’s religion or family background, contemporary art shall offer something or not equally to everyone. When the individual recognizes in the work some question he/she has already posed himself, one may realize that he or she is not alone in his/her questionings and, in this case, the encounter with art may lead to a new question or to another sense, different from the original question’s,’ he comments.

The curator points out that contemporary art must always be presented with an educational work, for ‘it is very important to provide some tools, be it a thematic visit or a program with the community, so that people can decide whether they want to interact with what they behold. If the individual lives with and acknowledges his/her cultural asset, this is incredible.’ And the Executive-Director Ana Lúcia Gazzola draws attention to the fact that Inhotim develops several educational programs with children and teenagers of the city of Brumadinho and of the region. Every year, approximately 20 thousand children take part in educational projects focused on art and the environment. For Gazzola, ‘contemporary citizenship must include the access to the assets of culture, and Inhotim has become a national and international referential institution regarding not only knowledge production, but also its circulation.’

Known for its sophisticated integration and harmony between art and the environment, Inhotim has preserved this feature in the nine new works as well. The team in charge of taking care of the entire botanic collection was also responsible for the adaptation of landscaping in galleries and installations. According to the curator of Inhotim’s botanic collection, Eduardo Gonçalves, for some works only small interventions or landscaping adjustments were requested, as in the case of Edgard de Souza’s Sculptures. ‘In others, the garden ended up acquiring greater importance and became a relevant part of the work itself, as in Valeska Soares’s ‘Folly’(2005’2009), since the work shows, in a meaningful way, the reflection of the garden itself.’ The garden also acquired an important dimension in Rivane Neuenschwander’s ‘Continente/Nuvem’(2008). ‘For Rivane’s work, we had to rebuild the small house’s old backyard so that the visitor could feel he traveled back in time,’ explains Gonçalves.

For the openings, five gardens, a resetting of natural vegetation, in addition to many transition areas among the new galleries, have been designed. ‘We did all our work in close contact with the technical team, responsible for assembling the works, and with the curatorship. In particular cases, the artist worked directly with us, what generated even more interaction,’ informs Eduardo Gonçalves.

The manifold possibilities Inhotim offers to artists and the very manner the collection is organized and presented to the public are not the work of chance. There is a clearly defined curatorial conception among the curators of Inhotim, the American Allan Schwartzman, the German Jochen Volz, and the Brazilian Rodrigo Moura. Interculturality is a hallmark of this trio that has shaped in Inhotim one of the world’s most important collections of contemporary art.

For Jochen Volz, ‘we at Inhotim have a different cultural responsibility and with these nine new works we have not actually moved up the ladder, we have acquired new importance, new scale, new urgency.’ The curators, in spite of the geographical distance - Allan Schwartzman lives in New York - are always connected and exchange ideas, discuss the commissioning of specific works, and the realization of new projects. ‘We search for a consensus among the three of us; there is no dissent. In the meetings of the curatorship, we lay all cards on the table and discuss the possibilities, what is more interesting and why,’ explains the German curator.

The curators have also accomplished a fruitful dialogue with the technical team, in charge of carrying out the projects. ‘This is all hard work, but achieved as a much attuned team,’ assures Volz. The curators’ dialogue also takes place in another direction: the person who conceived Inhotim, executive Bernardo Paz, also participates in choosing the works.

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