PNCA, 1241 NW Johnson, through October 22
Troca Brasil was designed to cultivate an artistic and cultural dialogue between Portland and Rio de Janeiro, two distinctly different communities that are emerging as art centers of international repute. In partnership with the Rio-based gallery A Gentil Carioca, PNCA has imported work by the gallery's three founders, Ernesto Neto, Laura Lima, and Marcio Botner as well as Marsarres and Thiago Rocha Pitta to initiate this cross-cultural conversation. (Next fall, six Portland artists—Bruce Conkle, David Eckard, Emily Ginsburg, MK Guth, Don Olsen, and Tamsie Ringler—will travel to Rio to return the favor.) The resulting works, which predominantly explore issues of space and the body, create an environment that is largely sensuous and exotic, appealing to all five senses.
Walking through Feldman Gallery, Botner's somewhat underwhelming video pieces—including a loop of the artist riding a bicycle against a picture-postcard backdrop of blue sky and palm trees—engage the eyes, while Marsarres' sound sculpture, "Power Bass," punctuates the experience with incredibly deep, randomly triggered thuds. All the while, Laura Lima's "Gala Chickens," gussied up in neon-colored feathers that conjure Brazilian carnival costumes, scratch and crow their way into your consciousness from a makeshift coop at the front of the gallery.
The centerpiece of the show is Ernesto Neto's large installation in the Project Space. Known for creating room-sized spaces with hand-carved foam or fabric, Neto, by far the most widely exhibited artist here, has created another sculpture that oozes with his trademark eroticism. In this installation, the artist, who once quipped to an interviewer in Bomb that "sex is like a snake, it slithers through everything," has constructed a kind of castle out of a see-through pink material, trimmed with what looks like the braided band of a woman's underwear. It features sock-like orifices into which a viewer can slip an arm, as well as a womb-like chamber to accommodate even the most extreme Freudian regression fantasies. Anchoring the fabric are weighted bags, shaped like cartoonish testicles. In all, Neto's sculpture illustrates a kind of sexual ubiquity, while boldly portraying the physicality of the body as a carnal terrain. JOHN MOTLEY