b. 1967, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Rivane Neuenschwander was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1967. She earned a BA in fine arts from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, in 1993 and an MA from the Royal College of Art in London in 1998, where she was artist-in-residence from 1996–98. In her installations, film, and photography, Neuenschwander employs fragile, unassuming materials to create mesmerizing aesthetic experiences, a process she describes as “ethereal materialism.”
In Neuenschwanders film Carta Faminta (Starving Letters, 2001), snails eat intricate shapes into sheets of rice paper, while in Love Lettering (2002), goldfish flit through the bright green and blue environs of a water-filled tank, trailing behind them strips of paper on which are typed words including “sweet,” “my dear,” and “no.” The installation I Wish Your Wish (2003) draws on a tradition at the São Salvador church Nosso Senhor do Bonfim by inviting the viewer to take a ribbon, tie it around his or her wrist, and leave it there until it falls off, upon which the prayer inscribed on it will come true.
In her Joe Carioca and Friends (2003), Neuenschwander appropriated a 1941 Disney comic book featuring clichéd portrayals of Brazilians. She painted over the original text in blocks of bright color, maintaining the shapes of the speech bubbles for the viewers to fill in. Neuenschwander has frequently collaborated with filmmaker Cao Guimares on projects such as Inventory of Small Deaths (Blow) (2000) and Quarta-feira de Cinzas/Epilogue (2006). In the latter, ants carry impossibly large sugar-coated discs of confetti, suggesting that work, consumption, and art making might be entirely synchronous.
Neuenschwander’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at venues including Artpace, San Antonio (2001); Portikus, Frankfurt (2001); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); Museu de Arte Moderna Aloísio Magalhes, Recife (2003); Saint Louis Art Museum (2004); New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2010); and Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2010). The Kunsthalle Lingen, Germany, produced a two-person show with the work of Haegue Yang, which traveled to the Overbeck-Gesellschaft Kunstverein Lübeck, Germany (2011). Neuenschwander has also participated in the group exhibitions Panorama de Arte Brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna de So Paulo (2001); Land, Land!, Kunsthalle Basel (2003); Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2005); Comic Abstraction, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); The Wizard of Oz, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2008); and Yes Naturally, how art saves the world, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, The Hague and Niet Normaal Foundation, Utrecht, Netherlands (2013). She has also participated in the Istanbul Biennial (1997); So Paulo Biennial (1998, 2006, and 2008); Venice Biennale (2003 and 2005); and Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (2008). In 2004, she was shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and in 2013, she was awarded the Yanghyun Prize by the Yanghyun Foundation in South Korea. Neuenschwander lives and works in London and Belo Horizonte.