Body Without Organs, Body Without Image: Ernesto Neto’s Anti-Leviathan


In the immense emptiness and sepulchral chill of the Panthéon it seems to loom up abruptly, a ballooning, billowy suspension of innumerable synthetic columns of delicate white voile (stretchable Lycra) whose distended bases, bulging with faintly perfumed ballast, descend randomly to various levels, some reaching as far as the ground [fig.1].1 A kind of inverted forest, attached to the Panthéon’s vaulting like some monstrous parasite, a reverse shot to the strict alignment of its columns. High up, hanging vine-like columns creep through holes in vast sheets of folded Lycra stretched out between the four branches of the Panthéon in an uneven sinuous network with long, undulating, constricted, bloated pockets…. This body, any given aspect of which would render the central site of the Republican milieu utterly unrecognisable, is therefore not installed in it as in some arbitrary exhibition-space: it could only have deployed itself so extensively by plugging itself into the building at multiple points so as to lay siege to all of its volumes and principal axes (the entire height of the transept crowned by its gigantic dome, the nave, and the four arms)…