Cildo Meireles is a grim trickster whose bitingly clever use of materials makes you physically uncomfortable about politics and power. The converging planes of the Brazilian artist’s installation Amerikkka (1991/2013) are paved with wooden eggs below and hollowed golden ammunition above. You’re invited to take off your shoes and walk across the eggs, bathed in the warmly inviting light that glows on the rows of bullets. Walking on eggshells, under fire—when put in words, the relation between the viewer’s body and the objects becomes a mash-up of clichés. But they’re upended as you step gingerly on the work, as the pain from the rounded points digging into your soles subverts expectations of the eggshells’ delicacy and undermines the visual appeal of gleaming bullets. America’s tempting promise and insidious violence can just as easily switch places. A side room displays the subtler Virtual Spaces (1967-68/2015), freestanding sculptures of corners where cuts in the moulding interrupt the rhythm of patterning in parquet floors. Without requiring direct contact, the installation doesn’t have the sensory drama of Amerikkka. But for the prolonged gaze it’s equally disorienting.
Pictured: Cildo Meireles: Amerikkka, 1991/2013, painted wooden eggs and bullets, 158 by 236 by 118 inches. Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York.