Cildo Meireles at Inhotim


Resizing Perspective

Cildo Meireles at Inhotim: resizing perspective
You will be surprised by the sheer size of the Inhotim Institute, the splendor of its gardens, and the variety of contemporary artworks in its collection. In view of the number of works of varying size and substance within the space, we invite you to come and experience this exhibition, which focuses on the role of scale in the work of Cildo Meireles (Rio de Janeiro, 1948). He is one of the most important contemporary artists active today. His pieces often work with—and question—measuring devices, collections, and the idea of circuits. Inspired by the artist's inquisitive attitude, we offer you a journey that takes you from one of his smallest pieces to one of the largest and oldest sculptures in our gardens.
Little memories
The journey begins with a work that is tiny in size, but that has huge sentimental value for the artist. "Camelô" (Street Vendor), produced in 1998, stands in an illuminated corner of the room. At less than 10 centimeters tall, you'll need to bend down to see this piece in which Cildo Meireles revives a childhood memory of accompanying his father on trips to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). You can make out a moving figure which, like the vendors in the city center, invites the viewer to come closer and take a look.The street vendors, with their trays full of small, ordinary items like pins and shirt collar bones, intrigued Cildo Meireles.

"How can someone get by, selling something as insignificant as a pin or a shirt collar bone? And behind all that, there were the smokestacks and workers. All those people just to make these worthless bits and bobs."
Cildo Meireles

Size and value
Your journey through Cildo Meireles's works on display at Inhotim will bring you to one of the major themes in the artist's work: circulation. The next 2 pieces show Meireles's approach to the things we use to measure value, namely coins and banknotes. Their use is so widespread that they span all social classes. Small objects with a wide reach are viewed as opportunities to spread information or critical messages throughout society.
Insertions into ideological circuits
Having investigated modes of circulation, the artist devised 2 projects entitled Insertions into Ideological Circuits 1 (Coca-Cola Project) and 2 (Banknote Project). These went on display for the first time in 1970 as part of the "Information" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Both projects involved printing information onto widely circulated objects before releasing them back into circulation and spreading their messages to a wide and far-flung audience. But what circulation systems do we use today? And what messages could we popularize?

Detail of the artist's intervention on returnable bottles. The work's impact is greatest when the bottles are in circulation.

With the same idea of reaching a wide audience, banknotes were also stamped with political messages and returned to circulation.

Real scale, virtual spaces
In a series of drawings between 1967 and 1968, Cildo Meireles studied the different ways in which walls and floors were joined within the domestic space. These drawings would later become full-scale sculptural spaces. "Espaços virtuais: Canto nº VI" (Virtual Spaces: Corner VI) challenges the viewer to understand perspective by moving around the piece and sensing the virtuality of the space, as shown in this detail of the work.
Sizes and sensations
There are currently 3 large installations permanently on display in the Cildo Meireles Gallery at the Inhotim Institute. We could think of these 3 artworks as 3 collections of various sized objects that have been organized unexpectedly. The installations offer up various sensations, inviting the viewer to move around in order to experience the pieces. In this gallery, you can find "Glove Trotter," "Desvio para o vermelho" (Red Shift), and "Através" (Through).

In Glove Trotter (1991), the viewer is given a clear sense of scale by spheres of various sizes lying close to the ground. The spheres can be glimpsed through a steel net that covers them. This steel net brings a sense of unity to the collection while increasing the size of the piece beyond the dimensions of each individual sphere.

If, in the previous piece, Meireles invites you to become aware of the infinite space spreading out across the floor, in "Desvio para o vermelho" (Red Shift), from 1967–1984, the artist invites you into a living room permeated entirely with the color red. Here, the notion of collection is created by the number of items concentrated in the space. Furniture, ornaments, household goods, and works of art. Can you find a piece by Cildo Meireles in this room?

Map of the art collection included in the first part of the installation, "Desvio para o vermelho I: Impregnação" (Red Shift I: Impregnation).

In the room permeated with the color red, the human body, dominated by the same color, provides the scale for sizing the objects. This is the first of 3 areas in the piece. The circuit will invite you to turn left and discover the next space.

In Desvio para o vermelho II: Entorno (Red Shift II: Spill), a bottle has spilled much more liquid than it possibly could have held, leading you on into the next area.

In Desvio para o vermelho III: Desvio (Red Shift III: Shift), you will see an illuminated sink overflowing with a red liquid. Is the sink nearby or far away? How far away is it exactly?

In "Através" (Through), from 1983–1989, the way objects are organized produces an unexpected mixture of barriers and everyday objects. In this installation, the viewer will find their way blocked both by small objects, like shards of glass, and by obstacles that are many times larger than the human body itself.
The final piece on this journey is "Inmensa" (Immense), from 1982–2002. It is a huge steel structure in which increasingly larger objects balance on top of increasingly smaller ones in the middle of the huge garden at the Inhotim Institute.
Credits: Story

This exhibition was created specifically for Google Arts & Culture in September 2017.
Many of the artworks in this exhibition are on permanent display at Inhotim.
See more pieces from the collection and plan your visit at

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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