Go See, Nantes, France- Ernesto Neto ‘CIVILIZED GUILT’ at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes, through September 21, 2009

August 18th, 2009

From “Civilized Guilt,” a recreation of Ernesto Neto’s “Leviathan Thot” currently showing at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.

Timed to coincide with this year’s Estuaire, Musée des Beaux-Arts is currently hosting a giant work by Ernesto Neto.  “A Culpa civilizada (Civilized Guilt)” is a re-working of his well-known installation piece “Léviathan Thot,” originally shown in 2006 at the Panthéon in Paris during the Autumn Festival.  The installation will be housed in the patio space of the museum, and is curated by Blandine Chavanne and Alice Fleury, director and contemporary art coordinator of the gallery, respectively.  It will close on September 21.

Related links:
Ville de Nantes : Ernesto Neto
Ernesto Neto [artnet]

Ville de Nantes has video of “Civilized Guilt.”

More images and story after the jump…

“Leviathan Thot” recreated the Biblical monster, whose moniker, “leviathan,” is a manifestation of Satan in Christian lore, and has infiltrated modern Hebrew to simply mean “whale.”  In “Civilized Guilt,” Neto presents a concentrate of the original 2006 piece, made of transparent tulle studded with beads, sand, and sugar, a filling which lends the installation multi-dimensional sensory feel.  Accordingly situated in the patio space of the gallery, the piece can be seen from the first floor, so that patrons can view it from all sides and angles.  Its contrast with the walls of the gallery emphasizes the installation’s fragility, the lightness of its materials fighting in turn with the creature which it portrays.  That dichotomy is evidenced as well by the title — “guilt” here has been “civilized,” lightened, made palatable.

From Ernesto Neto’s “Civilized Guilt,” via Mieke.

From Ernesto Neto’s “Civilized Guilt,” via petite malices.

From “Civilized Guilt,” an Ernesto Neto piece at Musée des Beaux Arts.  Via Mieke.

“Civilized Guilt” refers in part to the civilized people guilty of selling those they considered subhuman for material goods.  The sugar present in the piece also implicitly recalls the Triangular Trade, an account of which in the Nantes History Museum struck the artist as he was working on the piece.  The Trade brought American goods to Africa in exchange for slaves that worked in Europe on the plantations whose produce then went back to the United States: that is, people were effectively traded for sugar in a roughly triangular trans-Atlantic trade network.

From Ernesto Neto’s “Civilized Guilt, at Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.

From Ernesto Neto’s Civilized Guilt,” via fluctuat.

“Civilized Guilt,” an Ernesto Neto piece at Musée des Beaux-Arts. Via Artipedia.

From Ernesto Neto’s “Civilized Guilt,” via Liberation.

Born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Neto has had solo shows in galleries around the world.  Yomio Koyama Gallery; Tokyo; Barbican Art Gallery, London; Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris; Freud Museum, Vienna; Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin; the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art; the Sydeny Museum of Contemporary Art; Kunsthalle Basel; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and more have hosted his works.  Neto showed at the 5th Bienal de Arte do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil; Japan’s Tsumari Art Triennial; and at the Venice Biennale in 2001.  His works are held by the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, DC; New York’s Guggenheim Museum and MoMA; The Monsoon, London; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and more.

– R. Fogel