BasnepuruTxanaYubé, 2015

Installation view: Ernesto Neto and the Huni Kuin: Aru Kuxipa | Sacret Secret, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, 2015, Photo: Reto Guntli

Installation with crocheted fabrics, chandelier, tables, chairs, benches, pillows, baskets, drums, stone, and spices
Ca. 650 x 1500 x 1000 cm
Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary

The Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto has been weaving the symbols and motifs of the Indigenous cosmologies of the Huni Kuin people into vibrant crocheted environments for over a decade. He incorporates iconographic, ritual, and narrative elements drawn directly from Indigenous teachings and healing practices, including Huni Kuin myths, ayahuasca rites, and kenés (healing patterns that connect to invisible beings), as well as the figures of a boa constrictor and a jaguar. Each visual and spiritual element harbors a rich cosmological symbolism and expresses the Huni Kuin’s ancestral understanding of the forces that shape their world, where human and nonhuman aspects meet. 

Conceived in collaboration with the Amazonian artists, plant masters, and pajés (shamans) of the thirty-four Jordão Huni Kuin communities, BasnepuruTxanaYube forms a kupixawa, a communal space that hosts spiritual ceremonies of healing, contemplation, and joyful gathering. The work was commissioned for the exhibition “Aru Kuxipa” (“Sacred Secret,” TBA21, Vienna, 2015) and was activated on that occasion by the Huni Kuin pajés. Crocheted from hand-tinted green, pink, and orange cotton ribbons and spiced with lavender, clove, and turmeric, this tent-like structure borrows its shape and function of the Huni Kuin’s central place of social and spiritual assembly. Regular lozenge or diamond patterns of the jiboia (boa) decorate the translucent net membrane stretched overhead and cast geometric shadows on the ground. 

At the center of the space, next to an assembly of pajé benches, PedraGibo LagoDuaBusen (StonePythonDuaBusen Lake), a green marble table from Guatemala, is engraved with shapes of the jiboia and a pajé with maraca. Placed on it are sacred objects contributed by the Huni Kuin such as blowpipes made from bamboo and bone for inducing remedies, most commonly Amazonian medicinal compounds made of tobacco, ashes, and leaves, applied for cleansing and detoxifying body and mind. Suspended from the ceiling, a chandelier knit from yellow cotton string, titled CanoaKeneOnçaPataLampa Luz (CanoeKeneJaguarPawLampLight), carries candles in bowls filled with little crystal stones. It is shaped like a nest of pendulous teardrops and creates a spatial and energetic relation between ceiling and floor, heaven and earth. Alongside it, a crocheted ladder, enriched with clove and turmeric scents, symbolizes the entry to the other world, as told in an old Huni Kuin myth. 

The collaboration between Neto and Huni Kuin makes space for an exploration of shared sensibilities and different ways of thinking that remain open to interpretation. Together, they renegotiate the boundaries between artistic, natural, divine, and social expressions. They invite us to take the path of the forest, conflate the invisible and the visible, the aesthetic and the spiritual, and possibly align ourselves with more equitable futures, which the Huni Kuin call Xina Bena, the New Era. “The new thinking unites itself in order to strengthen and bring together this new force, this new alliance, and also this new knowledge of our ancestry. This new thinking has its origin in old thinking. It came from our ancestors. I see this with art creation, with singing, with dancing, with plant healing, with prayer, and also with technologies. So all is being integrated.” —Txana Bane Huni Kuin


Group show: Remedios
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba
Curator: Daniela Zyman
Exhibition 14 April 2023 -  March 2024

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1964. Lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Aru Kuxipa | Sacred Secret — A tour through the exhibition with Ernesto Neto