Rivane Neuenschwander

Rivane Neuenschwander, Untitled, 1999. Photograph by Vincente Mello
Rivane Neuenschwander, Untitled, 1999. Photograph by Vincente Mello

Rivane Neuenschwander (b. 1958, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) creates intricate and ephemeral installations out of organic substances and domestic objects, manipulating the symbolic qualities of materials as ordinary as garlic husks, soap or dust. In a particular installation at Stephen Friedman Gallery in London, she traced the outline of the parquet tiles on the floor in fine lines of white powder.

This exquisite and fragile drawing could have been blown away or scuffed out of existence by any inadvertent passer by. Walking around the edge of the installation made one very aware of one’s own presence as a threat. By outlining the cracks she also initiated a sense of unease that can come when the gaps in our world are drawn to our attention. Not walking on the cracks in case the bears get you is a childhood enactment of this basic fear: the fear that our reality may be porous to unknown forces. The Aboriginal people of Australia have a spirit creature called the crack man who is shown as a menacing spidery presence drawn along the crack lines in cave wall paintings.

Rivane Neuenschwander at Liverpool Biennial 1999

Untitled, 1999
Mixed media installation 
Courtesy of Instituto Cultural Itaú and Galeria Camargo Vilaça, São Paulo