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Open AccessArticle

The Persistence of Primitivism: Equivocation in Ernesto Neto’s A Sacred Place and Critical Practice

Department of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 0G5, Canada
Arts 2019, 8(3), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8030111
Received: 19 June 2019 / Revised: 21 August 2019 / Accepted: 25 August 2019 / Published: 29 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Decolonizing Contemporary Latin American Art)
During the 2017 Venice Biennale, the area dubbed the “Pavilion of the Shamans” opened with A Sacred Place, an immersive environmental work created by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto in collaboration with the Huni Kuin, a native people of the Amazon rainforest. Despite the co-authorship of the installation, the artwork was dismissed by art critics as engaging in primitivism and colonialism. Borrowing anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s concept of equivocation, this article examines the incorporation of both indigenous and contemporary art practices in A Sacred Place. The text ultimately argues that a more equivocal, open interpretation of the work could lead to a better understanding of the work and a more self-reflexive global art history that can look at and learn from at its own comparative limitations. View Full-Text
Keywords: Venice Biennial; contemporary art; indigenous art; Brazilian art; Ernesto Neto; Huni Kuin; equivocation Venice Biennial; contemporary art; indigenous art; Brazilian art; Ernesto Neto; Huni Kuin; equivocation
MDPI and ACS Style

Maroja, C. The Persistence of Primitivism: Equivocation in Ernesto Neto’s A Sacred Place and Critical Practice. Arts 2019, 8, 111.

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