Climb into Huge Hanging Crocheted Tunnels in Ernesto Neto's New Free Exhibit
Unfortunately, we received an email from the gallery stating that due to "issues of liability and respect for the pieces of art" children under 12 are no longer allowed to climb in Neto's structures. The pieces are still very cool to look at, but certainly exploring them was a big part of the fun.
Do you remember Ernesto Neto's anthropodino exhibit at the Park Avenue Armory as fondly as I do? Three years later my daughter still raves about that experience and how much fun she had running through the Brazilian artist's wild, otherworldly installations. That's why I was thrilled when I found out that the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in Chelsea is showcasing two floors of Neto's interactive work through late May for FREE.
My six-year-old and I and some friends went to check it out and—if I hadn't physically carted my kid out of there—she'd still be running around Neto's colorful crocheted wonderland.
Unlike the show at the Armory, the pieces in this exhibit (titled Slow iis goood) are for sale—the larger ones go for $150,000-$300,000 a piece! But the gallery understands that Neto's art is meant to be physically explored, so curious kids and adults (and not just prospective buyers) are welcome to enter the huge, hand-crocheted hanging structures.
When you walk into the gallery, you pass through "SoundWay," a pair of thin woven curtains adorned with sleigh bells and seashells that make noise as you walk. If your kids make too much of a racket by pulling on the netting, the folks at the front desk will politely but firmly tell them to cut it out. You are understandably always being watched at this exhibition.
The centerpiece of the first floor is "The Island Bird," a massive suspended crocheted structure with various tunnels for exploring. A "gallerina" stands guard at the two entryways instructing visitors to remove their shoes and treat the art with respect. The floor of the tunnels is made up of plastic balls held in place under tight netting, so you can feel the ground shift beneath your weight. I found it a bit unsettling but my kid and her friends thought it was awesome. They ran through the structure picking up stray balls and peeking out of holes in the netting, and tried to get away with jumping, which is not allowed. The first floor also features a few wall pieces and a group of things that look like stools, but it turns out sitting on them isn't permitted. Odd considering you touch pretty much everything else at this exhibit.
On the second floor, you'll find a similar piece, "The Sun Lits Life, Let the Son," under a skylight. Visitors can climb into this one, too, and also smell pots of spices that hang from its top. My daughter liked sniffing the cloves but screwed up her nose when it came to black pepper, turmeric and cumin. In an adjacent room there's a pair of hammocks, although lying on a bed of balls isn't as relaxing as a traditional hammock experience. There's also a piece called "Labor" meant to evoke Neto's workspace where you can see the machine he uses to spin his heavy-duty polypropylene and polyester rope. My daughter asked if she could take crocheted classes here. (Wonder how much Neto would charge for lessons!)
After you're finished, take some time to explore Chelsea. You're just blocks away from the popular Seal Park and the Pier 62 Carousel.
Ernesto Neto's Slow iis goood is on view through Friday, May 25 at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, 521 West 21st Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm. FREE