Aerial photo of Hélio Oiticica's PN15 structure in Socrates park. White domed circular structure with a mesh window and wood interior, with green lawn and city skyline in the back
Aerial view looking south on East River, Socrates park with PN15 white circular structure in the center of the park
1971 Photograph of PN15 Maquette
May 14 – August 14, 2022

Hélio Oiticica
Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 1971/2022


May 14 – August 14, 2022

Opening Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11 am – 5 pm, Friday 11:00am – 7:30pm, Saturday 11 am – 5 pm, Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

Plan Your Visit | Projections | Performance

Press | Press Release | Press Release (Portuguese)Bio

Hélio Oiticica
Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 1971 / 2022
Wooden and steel structure, wire mesh, curtains, plants, and video projections , 2022

Diameter: 40.35 feet (12.30 meters) Height: 9.84 feet (3 meters)
Courtesy of the Estate of Hélio Oiticica and Lisson Gallery

Presented in collaboration with Projeto Hélio Oiticica and Americas Society, this immersive environment is the first realization of a never-before-executed idea by the late Brazilian artist. Oiticica envisioned the work in 1971, as part of a series of Subterranean Tropicália Projects for Central Park, while he was living in New York City, drawing inspiration from the thriving underground culture. The circular structure of curving corridors provides visitors with a sensory multi-sensory experience and a space for the public to collectively engage in auto-performance. The 40 feet diameter environment, with plants and image projections, creates a play of light, shadow, opacity, framing, and orientation. It is a space for collective creativity and leisure, dubbed “creleisure” by the artist.

Over the course of the exhibition, Brazilian and Queer artists will activate the installation as a stage for interactive performances and workshops, bringing new currency to Oiticica’s vision from 1971. The series kicks off with a performance by multidisciplinary artist MX Oops on Friday, May 26th, in addition to programs with La Luna and Bell Falleiros. During Socrates’ summer monthly New Agora series, the Parks’ community partners – including Fortune Society, and Jazz Foundation of America, among others – will activate PN15, echoing Oiticica’s engagement with the public.

The project is presented in conjunction with the exhibition ‘This Must Be the Place: Latin America Artists in New York, 1965-1975′ at Americas Society .

Image credit:
Katherine Abbott Photography, KMDECO Creative Solutions. 
‘Maquette for Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 Penetrable,’ 1971. Nylon mesh and cardboard. Photographer Miguel Rio Branco, © César and Claudio Oiticica

Video by: KMDeco Creative Solutions: Mark DiConzo. Video created with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. Courtesy Socrates Sculpture Park, 2022.


The video projection program series in the interior of PN15 presents both historical video by the artist, his Latin American artist contemporaries, and recent video by Brazilian and queer artists who share overlapping interests. The artist wrote that he intended for the Puerto Rican drag queen and underground cinema star, Mario Montez, to perform inside PN15. One of the video projection programs showcases various films featuring Montez, including Oiticica’s super 8 film Agrippina e Roma Manhattan.

Video Program #1: Hélio’s New York Underground 
May 14 – May 29
Hélio Oiticica, Agrippina is Rome – Manhattan, 1972, 15 mins, super 8 transferred to digital, color, sound

This unfinished film, featuring Cristiny Nazareth, Antonio Dias, and Mario Montez, may be considered Oiticica’s meditation on New York City. Oiticica’s notes tell us the film is partly inspired by Wall Street Inferno, a poem by nineteenth century Brazilian poet Joaquim de Sousa Andrade who lived in New York during the Gilded Age. The titular reference to the Roman Empress, mother of the notorious Nero, who was widely regarded as deceitful and merciless in pursuit of power, transposes the decline-of-the-empire narrative from Rome to Manhattan. Reenforcing this parallel are shots of the characters stoically wandering through Wall Street’s neoclassical architecture, which pan up towards the mammoth buildings in a vertiginous circular motion. Drag star, Mario Montez monotonously, repetitively plays dice with Antonio Dias on top of a heap of rusty metal sheets. What luck to find in the streets a craps-worthy surface marked with an “M” for Mario Montez. Speedy and unceasing the menacing traffic whizzes past. These scenes seem to suggest that New York fame, wealth, and life is very much up to chance.

Image credit: Hélio Oiticica, Agrippina is Rome – Manhattan, 1972. © César and Claudio Oiticica

Video Program #2: Projections Among Friends 
June 4 – June 26
Curated by Americas Society

Created by Latin American artists also living in New York in the period, the selected videos in this program reflect the artists embrace of video as experimental media in their practices while also revealing networks of affinity and friendship based on video production. For instance, Andreas Valentin’s video All Language (1974) features Oiticica himself in midst of work in the bureaucracy of a translation company. Regina Vater’s LuxoLixo(1973/74) a reflection on waste and excess she saw in the city of New York, was a collaboration with Oiticica, who composed the work’s soundtrack. Gerchman’s Triunfo Hermético (1972) touches upon key issues that both Oiticica and Gerchman were concerned, such as language and identity categorizations, as well as the merging of art and life. Eduardo Costa’s Name of Friends (1969) also centered on language and friendship, present information that can only be fully understood by a viewer able to read lips. Finally, Leandro Katz’s Notas Lunares (1980), a reflection on the human and the cosmic world, highlights phases of the moon, which appears and disappears unconcerned by human’s desires.

Andreas Valentin, All Language, 1974, 3:31 mins, Super 8 transferred to digital, Courtesy of the Artist

Rubens Gerchman, Triunfo Hermético, 1972, 12 mins, 35 mm transfer to digital, color, no sound

Antonio Dias, The Illustration of Art, 1971, 2:25 mins, 2:25 mins, Courtesy of the Galeria Nara Roesler

Eduardo Costa, Name of Friends, 1969, 2:44 mins, 8 mm film transferred to digital, Courtesy Eduardo Costa Studio

Leandro Katz, Notas Lunares, 1980, 10 mins, 16 mm transferred to digital, color, no sound, Courtesy of the artist, of Henrique Faria Fine Art, and of Herlitzka+Faria

Regina Vater, LuxoLixo, 1973/74, 16:13 mins, Digital video, Courtesy of the Artist and Galeria Jaqueline Martins


Video Program #3: Hélio’s Legacies
July 1-August 14 

Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro
Me faça um pedido, 2020
HD Video, 06’29″

Gliding, swirling, floating, diving, submerging in an aquamarine sea, the Brazilian artist shares with the viewer an intimate scene of ritual water healing. Drawing from Afro-Brazilian spiritual practices, her training as a psychologist, and decolonial knowledge Vitorino Brasileiro’s art strives to remediate the damage of Modernity and heteropatriarchy. The breadth, depth and ambition of her practice parallels that of Oiticica, crossing among immersive installation, painting, video, writing, and performance. Vitorino Brasileiro’s work provides a counterpoint to Oiticica’s complicated interest, exploration and championing of gender performance, Black cultural production, and embodiment. Using Subterranean Tropicalia Project PN15 as a platform to foreground the sensorial work of an Afro-Brazilian trans woman provides a new perspective on Oiticica’s legacy.


Performance | Activations & Programs

Socrates presents PN15 as a structure both for visitors to drop-in and create their own spontaneous auto-performances and as a platform for planned performances by the Park’s community partners and living artists, bringing new currency to Oiticica’s vision from 1971. During Socrates’ summer monthly NEW AGORA series, the Parks’ community partners include The Fortune Society, The Jazz Foundation of America, contemporary artists and more, will activate the Penetrable, echoing Oiticica’s engagement with the public. Socrates’ series of performances and workshops by living artists whose work carry the multiform legacies of Oiticica’s manifold practice and feature Mx Oops, Bel Falleiros, Raphaela Melsohn and La Luna.

UnFiNiShEd aNiMaL featuring MX Oops —–>
Thursday, May 26 | 5-8 PM

Creleisure Talk: What’s Hidden in the Subterranean?—–>
Saturday, June 18 | 2-3 PM

Laura Harris, Assistant Professor, NYU
Aimé Iglesias-Lukin, Director and Chief Curator, Americas Society
Elisabeth Sussman, Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art
Jess Wilcox, Curator, Socrates Sculpture Park

Querido Hélio, I made a subterranean floorplan featuring Raphaela Melsohn—–>
June 17 – June 22, 2022

Space/Time Reclamation: órbita 555 featuring Juliana Luna—–>
Tuesday, June 21 | 4:30-5:30pm

in conjunction with Summer Solstice

Artist Conversation: Raphaela Melsohn
Querido Helio, how can I translate you?—–>
Tuesday, June 21 | 5:30 pm
in conjunction with Summer Solstice

The Fortune Society—–>
Saturday, June 25
in conjunction with New Agora: June

Jazz Foundation of America—–>
Saturday, July 9
in conjunction with New Agora: July

Fogo Azul / Capoeira Terreiro da Lua Performance & Workshops—–>
Thursday, August 4 | 5 pm

Dave’s Lesbian Bar—–>
Saturday, August 13
in conjunction with New Agora: August

We are one only heart, one only earth, one only soul featuring Bel Falleiros—–>
Sunday, August 14 | 12 – 2 pm

in conjunction with the Closing Reception of Subterranean Tropicália Projects:PN15 1971/2022

Plan Your Visit

When can I experience Hélio Oiticica’s PN15?
The work is open for the public to enter on Tuesdays through Thursdays: 11 am – 5 pm, Fridays: 11am – 7:30 pm, Saturdays: 11 am – 5 pm, Sundays: 11 am – 5 pm. The public cannot enter except during these hours.

No reservations are required. Access to enter is on a first-come, first serve basis.

During some of the open hours there will be performances taking place in and around PN15. It is one of the many ways that Oiticica intended the public to experience the piece.

PN15 can be viewed from the outside during regular hours 9 am to sunset, May 14 – August 14, 2022.

What to expect?
PN15 consists of a circular maze with darkened corners and spaces filled with light. Other areas contain botanical elements and video projections. Please allow time for your eyes to adjust between changes in the dark and light areas. There is a changing series of performances and video programs which you can learn about HERE.

We encourage the average visitor to spend between 5 and 15 minutes inside the work. You must leave through the same door that you entered.

What are the safety policies?
Socrates asks the public entering PN15 to wear properly fitted masks while inside. Site attendants will have masks and hand sanitizer available, if needed.

Please do not enter if you have tested positive for Covid-19 within the past 10 days of your visit or if you are experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. For full details of Covid-19 policy, visit HERE.

Can I bring a group?
There is a 15 person occupancy limit inside PN15. No reservations are required. Access to enter is on a first-come, first serve basis. Please organize your group sizes and visit times (recommended 5-15 minute visit inside) with these policies in mind. Please note that all public visitors, in addition to your group, will have access to the artwork also.

What if I get lost inside?
There is video surveillance inside the project. If you become disoriented inside, please wave your hands and the on-site attendant will come to assist you.

Are there any restrictions to the experience?
We ask that caretakers do not bring strollers inside and please carry young children while inside. There will be an area to park the strollers outside the artwork. The park and park staff is not responsible for lost or stolen items.

Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.

Animals must be carried by a caretaker to enter and while inside.

To arrange for accommodations, please email one week before your intended visit.


The Art Newspaper, August 12, 2022. “Hélio Oiticica’s unrealised Tropicália environment erected in New York”

Untapped New York, July 1, 2022. “16 New Public Art Installations in NYC

New York Magazine, May 23, 2022. “The Approval Matrix, May 18, 2022. “Socrates Sculpture Park presents new immersive art installation this month

Art Daily, May 13, 2022. Exhibition presents Hélio Oiticica’s 1971 unrealized proposal Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 1971/2022

ARTnews, April 26, 2022. “Hélio Oiticica’s Major Central Park Installation Will Be Realized 51 Years Later at Queens’s Socrates Sculpture Park

Queens Chronicle, April 28, 2022. “Natural and social environments at Socrates

Hyperallergic, May 1, 2022. “Your Concise New York Art Guide for May 2022

The New York Times, May 5, 2022. “Free Things to Do in New York, Every Day of the Week

Curbed, July 29, 2022. “Design Edit: Candy inspired Tables, an Archive of NYC Water, and More Design Finds

Hélio Oiticica Bio

Black & white 1971 photograph of Helio Oiticica leaning against a wall plastered with posters in Lower East Side, NYC

Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) is widely regarded as one of Brazil’s leading artists of the twentieth century and a touchstone for much contemporary art made since the 1960s, primarily through his freewheeling, participatory works of art, performative environments, avant-garde films and abstract paintings. Even before the age of 20, Oiticica was a key member of the historic Rio de Janeiro-based Grupo Frente (1954-56), his radical play with geometric form and vibrant colors transcending the minimal lines of European constructivism and imbuing his work with an exuberant rhythm that resonated with the avant-garde music and poetry of his native Brazil. In the late 1950s, Oiticica would go on to become a leading figure of Brazilian Neo-Concretism (1959-61) that included other ground breaking artists such as Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape and the poet Ferreira Gullar, ultimately giving rise to the artistic movement known as Tropicalismo, named for a work of Oiticica’s from 1967. 

Increasingly, Oiticica became a countercultural figure and underground hero, foregrounding bodily interaction with spatial and environmental concerns over pure aesthetics. “Ambient art,” he wrote, “is the overthrow of the traditional concept of painting-frame and sculpture – that belongs to the past. It gives way to the creation of ‘ambiences’: from there arise what I call ‘anti-art,’” which he later defined as “the era of the popular participation in the creative field.” This generous and generative practice would become highly influential for subsequent generations of artists, especially so his Parangolés or ‘habitable paintings’ and all-encompassing series of installations, known variously as Núcleos (ceiling-hung geometric panels forming gradual chromatic experiences) and Propositions or Penetrables (labyrinth-like architectural environments made of sand and semi-permeable cabins). This supra-sensorial approach continued until his untimely death in 1980 at the age of 42. 

Oiticica’s work has been the subject of major recent museum exhibitions, including the critically acclaimed retrospective Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, which debuted at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Philadelphia in 2016 and traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2017. Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Color was exhibited at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 2006-2007 and in London at the Tate Modern in 2007. His work is included in the collections of numerous international institutions including Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporãnea, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA; Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA; Tate Modern, London, UK; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA, among others. The Projeto Hélio Oiticica was established in Rio de Janeiro in 1980 to manage the artist’s estate.

Image credit: Hélio Oiticica in front of a poster for the play Prisoner of Second Avenue, in Midtown Manhattan, 1972, Facsimile of photograph, © César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

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Subterranean Tropicália Projects: PN15 1971/2022 is presented in conjunction with the exhibition This Must Be the Place: Latin America Artists in New York, 1965-1975 on view at Americas Society through May 21, 2022. Major support for the project comes from the Estate of Hélio Oiticica and Lisson Gallery with additional support from Claudio Oiticica & Diane Lynn DeBogory, The Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, Consulate-General of Brazil in New York, The Garcia Family Foundation, The Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation, The Ortiz Family, Safra National Bank of New York, Ana Sokoloff, and Clarice O. Tavares.