Art History, Artists

I wish your wish by Rivane Neuenschwander

Last week, visiting an art exhibition I had the opportunity to see an art installation called I wish your wish by the Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander. When I entered the installation I felt immediately transported to my homeland, and so many memories came. And immediately I wished to tell you about this beautiful work.

The installation

I wish your wish is an art installation featuring wall of multi-coloured ribbon strips imprinted with the wishes of past viewers. This artwork is a living performance inspired by a similar set-up for pilgrims at Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (Salvador, Brazil). A church of 18th century, one of the most famous in Brazil. At this church the visitors are encouraged to choose a fita (ribbon in Portuguese) and make a wish or a request for a miracle, then they knot three times the ribbon around the left wrist repeating the wish three times. According to the folklore the wish will come true when the ribbon falls.

Photo Credit: Natasha Moura

In the past, the ribbons were made of silk and the name of the saint were handlettered, but now they are made of nylon and machine-printed. According to the tradition, when paying a promise or thanking the saint, the pilgrims carried a photo or a small sculpture of wax representing the part of the body healed with the help of the saint (ex-voto). As a souvenir they received one of this ribbons that symbolizes the church itself.

Photo Credit: Natasha Moura

Neuenschwander’s installation ask the visitor to do pretty much the same thing. They are requested to write on a little piece of paper a wish that will eventually be printed on ribbons and available for future visitors. Then the visitors can choose on the wall of ribbons one wish, made by a past viewer and replace it one’s own wish.

This is my ribbon. It says “I wish I never stop dreaming”.

If you are in Madrid, you can see this installation in the exhibition Art Lesson at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

About the artist

Rivane Neuenschwander is a Brazilian artist, born in Belo Horizonte. Her work explores language, nature, the passing of time and social interactions. Sometimes her work is interactive, involving the viewers in spontaneous actions. She usually employs unassuming materials to create aesthetics experiences, she describes this process as “ethereal materialism”.


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