For Mundus Admirabilis, Regina Silveira’s contribution to SITE Santa Fe’s Future Shock, the Brazilian artist adorned the exterior walls and courtyard of the newly remodeled space with dozens of large black vinyl adhesive insects. Butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies, and beetles — some as big as killer whales — act as wonderfully weird wallpaper, where their hyperrealistic silhouettes will be on view for several months before they alight on their next destination.
Like many of Future Shock’s exhibitors, Silveira works in many disciplines. In addition to digital-image and video-projection installations, Silveira has made sculpture, holography, porcelain, magnificently drawn M.C. Escher-esque geometrical works on paper, and even virtual reality projects. In works like 2005’s Intro, the artist employed the same black vinyl adhesive she used for Mundus Admirabilis, covering the walls, floors, windows, and even the thermostat of a Brussels museum with thousands of black adhesive vinyl footprints, transforming a regular-looking building into something utterly unexpected.
For Mundus Admirabilis, the artist was inspired by meticulous renderings of insects in pre-photographic natural history publications. The work was originally exhibited in 2007 as part of Garden of Power, an installation in Brasilia, Brazil. Later, it traveled to São Paolo — where the artist lives and works — and Poland. In a statement on Silveira’s website, she described her motivations for Mundus Admirabilis as follows: “The revisited pests would be nonlinear metaphors of the much more furious pests that now plague us globally on several fronts: social, environmental, cultural and ‘civilizing,’ threatening a future that seems more and more infeasible.” The piece may reference dark themes — for example, biblical plagues, of which Mundus Admirabilis would be one of especially epic proportions — but they don’t take away from the sheer delight of the work, so bug-fearers need not worry. Silveira’s magnificent black vinyl creatures inspire awe and delight; they’re engrossing, not gross.