This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist, dated 6 August 2003.
“I have attempted to explore language on various levels, ranging from something as basic as the alphabet to nonverbal communications,” Neuenschwander has remarked. “I like misunderstandings, the between-the-lines, the gestures and murmurs, which are at once universal and particular.” Such idiosyncrasies of communication circulate through her work, making visible the subtleties of social interaction and the vagaries of time and place. Developing within a lineage of postwar Brazilian art, from Neo-Concretism to Tropicália and Conceptualism, Neuenschwander has evolved a practice that she sometimes refers to as “ephemeral materialism,” reflecting her openness to chance, experiment, and materials as varied as goldfish, ant-eaten rice paper, and dust. Based between London and Belo Horizonte, she opened a mid-career retrospective, organized by the New Museum in New York and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, in 2010; she has been included in the Venice and São Paulo Biennials and was shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize in 2004.
A motley assortment of 140 white raffia bags, a selection of which is painted with images both recognizable and abstract, ________ (Product of) riffs on circuits of multinational exchange, their impact on nature and consumption, and the ubiquitous, everyday experience of shopping. An amorphous installation, ________ (Product of) ponders repetition and difference within a serial practice, one explored in contemporary works including I Wish Your Wish (2003), in which viewers are invited to take a silk ribbon stamped with a wish in exchange for a deposit of their own wish, jotted on a piece of paper. Less institutionally and commercially explicit than Jac Leirner’s Names (Museums) (1989-92), a Duchampian collage of sewn-together museum shopping bags, ________ (Product of) is stripped of text, communicating instead through brightly colored, graphic images that hint at their alimentary contents and agricultural sources: dairy cows, corn, wheat. Stylized and often geometric, the bags cite the earlier migration of painting into the social landscape—for example, Hélio Oiticica’s Parangolés and Lygia Pape’s Divisor—as well as the modern iconography of design and advertising. True to Neuenschwander’s penchant for things of unassuming value, the bags are here presented as expressive and historical media in their own right, a visual narrative of the flow of commodities from far-flung sources into our daily lives.
Abby McEwen, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park
1 Rivane Neuenschwander, quoted in Roxana Marcoci, Comic Abstraction: Image Breaking, Image Making (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2007), 96.