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Ernesto Neto
& The Huni Kuin
“Aru Kuxipa – Sacred Secret”

Randian Art Residency news and announcements
—supported by Davidoff Art Initiative 


From September 8 venerated Huni Kuin pajés and artists, who resided in Vienna for the preparation and initiation of the project, will return to TBA21–Augarten for a second artist-in-residence program.

Aru Kuxipa | Sacred Secret, TBA21’s latest artist-centered initiative of commissioning interdisciplinary and unconventional projects devoted to social and environmental concerns, will close on October, 2015. The exhibition can be visited, with free admission, until 7pm of October 25, 2015.

The collaborative journey that the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto, the Amazon artists, plant masters, and pajés (shamans) of the thirty-seven Jordao Huni Kuin communities, and TBA21 have embarked on marks a crucial extension of the concerns that have been evident in Neto’s oeuvre over the past 20 years: a celebration of the sensuality of being, the unity of bodies and nature, and a longing for spiritual vision. Neto’s collaboration with the Huni Kuin people unfolded as an pioneering experiment, establishing a zone of encounter with our “ancestral futures” and an investigation of the teachings of plants and the spiritual nature of objects.

Aru Kuxipa transformed TBA21–Augarten into a space of secret ritual, participation, and activation, hosting spiritual and ceremonial gatherings. It became a place of transformation, a zone of encounter and expression, created through the vision and dreams of Neto and the Amazonian artists, plant masters and pajés (shamans) of the thirty-seven Jordão Huni Kuin communities. Sharing their sacred forms of expression, art, ritual and knowledge, members of the the Huni Kuin, who resided in Vienna for the preparation and initiation of the exhibition, in dialogue with Neto’s artistic language, created a site of healing away from their ancestral land.

“I am proud to support their vision to allow their eldest sons the opportunity to envision a future which is grounded on sharing their knowledge and learning how better to take ownership of it. To bring this knowledge to the next level where they can not only help us understand how better to pursue our future, but also their own.” – Francesca von Habsburg, Founder and Chairwoman of TBA21.

With this collaborative engagement, Neto mobilized a deep understanding of indigenous wisdom and tradition and the relational and perspectival nature of the Huni Kuin’s world vision. Visitors of Aru Kuxipa have been drawn into an inner space of ritual and healing with objects, maracas, feathers, kuripe (blowpipes), kené, weavings, jiboias (snakes), some hanging from the cealing and others laid out on table for their use. The spiritual center of the exhibition is demarcated by KupiForestUniXawa (2015), a communal space of celebration and gathering, sheltering rituals and immersive contemplation.

Neto’s new commission, combined with earlier major works by the artist from TBA21’s collection, demonstrate his long-standing dedication to divine forms and engage with an understanding of the body as part of the spiritual and material universe. Likewise, Aru Kuxipa engages with the larger political issues driving the recognition of the rights of indigenous communities today: the importance of preserving common lands and of opposing the injustice and criminalization that indigenous communities face with respect to violated land rights and the destruction of their biodiverse habitat. Aru Kuxipa is conceived as Neto’s personal tribute to the Huni Kuin.

“Aru means secret, sacred. Kuxipa means like a god. Kuxipa is the creator. So kuxipa for us is nature: earth, water, forest, wind, sun, moon, paths. All that is nature; all these to us are kuxipa, sacred; sacred ancestors, the sacred ancestry. I see Aru Kuxipa as a request for permission from the sacred, from the gods of nature, in order to praise this great celebration of this union that is taking place here today.” — Txana Bane, Huni Kuin

In conjunction with the Una Isĩ Kayawa (Book of Healing), published in Portuguese and the Hatxa Kuĩ language in collaboration with Editora Dantes and „initiated“ in Vienna in an English version, Aru Kuxipa have engaged with the large universe of indigenous knowledge, which has been sidelined and exoticized for centuries but which opens multiple entry points into a rethinking of our present moment. Una Isĩ Kayawa contains descriptions of the 109 plant species used in the indigenous therapies of the Huni Kuin and their curative properties. This ancestral knowledge and sacred spiritual philosophy are at the core of the exhibition, the international symposium, and the rituals.

Unfolding in two institutional venues and over two continents, this collaborative exhibition engaged with partners in both Austria and Brazil. While the Kunsthalle Krems focuses on a retrospective view of Neto’s nearly two decades of artistic production, TBA21 showcases the artist’s latest explorations and engagements.

Curated by Daniela Zyman