When I saw that gigantic machine, strangling a tree with its dinosaur-like claws, placed by Mathew Barney in the middle of a dome, I had two insights. The first one was: here is the cover for my novel And Still the Earth, one of my most successful books, which shows Brazil without trees, without water, heated and increasingly getting warmer, São Paulo paralyzed by massive traffic jams, violence reigning. One day I will ask for permission to use this work, Lama Lamina (2009), in the next editions. It is a symbol of present times.
It was one of the (many) things that impressed me when I went to Inhotim. Our time is reflected there. And when I looked up and saw the machine, I saw myself, I saw the dense vegetation that surrounds each pavilion and I saw everything reflected a thousand times by the geodesic dome. I remembered an interesting period in my life, when I was the editor for the Planeta magazine. Back then, the publication broke boundaries by talking about the future, extraterrestrial worlds, parallel universes, the power of thought, primitive civilizations that were more developed than current ones, unusual scientific findings. Planeta was the first non-specialized magazine to mention Buckminster Fullers Geodesic Dome, intended to protect houses or cities. Today, we might need geodesic domes to protect ourselves from the polluted atmosphere, which we have deconstructed.
I thought: Is this art? What is art? My answer to that is deeply personal. Everything which is beautiful (or terrible), which impresses me, makes me think, changes me. Is Munchs The Scream by any chance beautiful, soft? No. And yet, we are enchanted by it because that is us screaming; we understand the reason for it, the affliction present. Thus, with a completely open mind, I strolled around Inhotim. Actually, the very first question I asked was the reason for this undefinable name. In the old days, when this land was still a farm, there was an American man called Timothy here. A hard name for farm workers to pronounce, they shortened it to Tim, and added our very Brazilian “Nhô (sir). Nhô Tim. From that to Inhotim was a short leap.
I went all over the world as a journalist and writer. I have never been to any place like this. I have never read about anything similar to this place. I have to admit that, from a distance, it is hard to fully grasp what Inhotim is. It is pioneering, audacious, utopic. Is it a museum? It is and it is not. Is it a gallery? It is and it is not. So, what is it then: a park for the contemporary arts. What about those who do not like contemporary art? Visit it. It might reaffirm your opinion, it might change it. But there is not the slightest chance you will be immune to it. I almost wrote unpunished instead. You will question yourself, surrender to a lot, repel. There is a trick (I wonder if it is subliminal). The moment you leave one of the many spaces, you make peace with the world, with life, with everything, involved by the vegetation of one of the most beautiful parks known to us. If all the feelings (shock, joy, disgust, whatever it might be) a certain work of art awakens in you are kept, be happy, you have been changed, metamorphosed. And you will take Inhotim with you forever.
Get organized when you arrive there. Talk to the monitors (I dont even know if this is how they call them there), get the brochures. What do I want to see? Helio Oiticica, Chris Burden, Adriana Varejão, Miguel Rio Branco (I insist, dont miss out on Miguel), Cildo Meireles (ask yourself: what does he want with this red?), Tunga, and so on, for there are many creators.
I advise you to walk, the air is fresh, there is sunlight and shaded areas, time is paralyzed. As you get tired, look for one of the tree-trunk benches made from Pequi Vinagreiro, sit down, let the vibes brought by a century-old tree involve you. In the air, multicolored butterflies. And the lakes, water mirrors, all blue, where the park reflects itself, for it is Narcissus. Final word of advice, one day there is good. But why not take two days to see everything, revisit some things, isolate yourself from this senseless world? Just like Swift imagined Lilliput, James Hilton idealized Shangri-La, J.M Brarie founded Neverland (Peter Pan) and L. Frank Baum found Oz, Monteiro Lobato built the Sítio do Pica Pau Amarelo, Bernardo Paz created Inhotim, our exacerbated imagination.