Exhibit of the week: Rivane Neuenschwander: A Day Like Any Other

On exhibit at the Miami Art Museum is an excellent retrospective of the work of Brazilian conceptual artist Rivane Neuenschwander.

Miami Art Museum

Through Oct. 16

For Brazilian conceptual artist Rivane Neuenschwander, the viewer is no mere spectator, said Jenifer Vogt in the Palm Beach, Fla., ArtsPaper. Indeed, visitors’ “deepest emotions, fears, and heartfelt wishes” are integral to this innovator’s work. The centerpiece of MAM’s excellent Neuenschwander retrospective is I Wish Your Wish, an installation composed of thousands of brightly colored ribbons, each bearing a wish written previously by another visitor. Museumgoers are invited to remove ribbons that appeal to them—i wish there were no wars; i wish to win the lottery—and wear them around their wrists. For First Love, the artist hired a police sketch artist to draw likenesses of visitors’ early crushes, each based on a description provided over a two-hour stretch. In both cases, the human connection makes Neuenschwander’s work “so poignantly good” you want to “cuddle up in a corner” and let the show’s “emotional benevolence” wash over you.

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Don’t let the sentimentality fool you, said Anne Tschida in The Miami Herald. Neuenschwander smuggles a wealth of serious, thought-provoking complexity into her crowd-pleasing gestures. In Rain Rains, a series of water-filled, perforated aluminum buckets, suspended from the ceiling, drip at various speeds into vessels below. It’s a pleasant work of “sound art,” yes. Yet it’s also rich with layered meaning, alluding to the gradual eradication of the rain forest in the artist’s home country, or to “the sound of a leaking roof, slowly decaying as the water seeps through and sends a constant reminder of its demise.” Throughout the exhibition, Neuenschwander returns again and again to this general theme: “the endless process of destruction and rejuvenation, recycling and remembering.”

What really impressed me was the artist’s knack for narrative, said Carlos Suarez de Jesus in the Miami New Times. “Savoring each chapter of Neuenschwander’s career reveals she is a natural storyteller gifted with an insatiable curiosity.” One standout is The Conversation, based on a classic 1974 Francis Ford Coppola movie about a paranoid surveillance expert. For the installation, Neuenschwander hired professionals to hide 10 microphones under wallpaper and carpet; afterward, the artist and her assistants ransacked the space looking for the bugs. “Visitors entering the creepy installation can listen to the group’s frantic search—sounds of carpet and wallpaper being ripped.” The effect is so ominous you can almost feel Big Brother lurking overhead.

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