Hanging in the Balance

ruth asawa & ernesto neto question gravity.

Ruth Asawa and Ernesto Neto both use nets, weaves, cages, mesh, webbing. You’d think their work would be about enclosures, envelopments, maybe even traps and snares, but instead the pieces feel open and airy. The air passes through. Bodies pass through. Life passes through. There is breath, space, rest, an organic sense of comfort. OK, maybe there are hints of something more icky and sticky with Neto’s pieces, an edge of the gooey and maybe even the troubling. Overall, though, as with Asawa’s works, they are mostly playful and soothing.

In Asawa and Neto’s work, even when their creations are still, the shapes seem to drip, droop, drop. They swoop, sway, tickle. They tilt, lilt, and flicker. They are graceful. They smile, although they can be dead serious too. They dance. They don’t falter. Instead of capture or control, something else hangs in the balance with these sculptures: maybe the question of gravity itself, how it can hold us—and sometimes even let us float.

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