The 34th Bienal de São Paulo emphasizes poetics of “relation” and unites the city’s cultural institutions

02 May 2019

Appointed by the Fundação Bienal as chief curator of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, Jacopo Crivelli Visconti was selected with a project that proposes to structure the show based on the concept of “relation”. Freely inspired by the reflections of thinkers such as Édouard Glissant (Sainte-Marie, Martinique, 1928 – Paris, 2011), who took the Poetics of Relation (the title of a book he published in 1990) as one of the central points of his philosophy, and by the analyses of the Amerindian worldview developed in recent decades by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (Rio de Janeiro, 1951), the 34th Bienal states that it is necessary to abandon narrow and monolithic viewpoints to become open to the multiplicity of possible relations under constant evolution.

“In the polarized context in Brazil and worldwide today, where the different sides are increasingly closed off to each other and to dialogue, these lessons become urgent and necessary,” says Crivelli Visconti, who invited Paulo Miyada (adjunct curator), Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez (guest curators) to compose his curatorial team. “The 34th Bienal points to the potential of art as a resiliency, reinvention, repetition, translation and opacity. In this sense, the project claims the right to complexity and ambivalence in expressions of art and culture, as well as in the identities of social groups and subjects, offering alternatives to the brutish antagonism that has come to characterize the political and social arena in recent years. More than being linked to a single theme, thesis or discourse, the 34th Bienal is articulated based on multiple relationships that are instated among artistic, thematic, conceptual and institutional issues in an event of this size,” the curator adds.

To thoroughly problematize the question posed, the 34th Bienal will operate in an innovative way: in its temporal dimension, the Bienal will expand throughout 2020, with solo shows and events held in the Bienal Pavilion between March and August, while in spatial terms, the event will embrace the city, with shows held between September and December in partnership with dozens of the city’s cultural institutions. Artworks by artists participating in these exhibitions will be shown, simultaneously, at the Bienal Pavilion, inviting the public to an exercise of perceiving the artworks based on the distinct relations they establish in a solo show and in a large group exhibition like the Bienal.

Time, Surface and Depth

To allow for the establishment of a broad spectrum of relations, at various levels, the 34th Bienal will be articulated around three main axes: time, surface and depth. These vectors concern the show’s movement, both from the institutional viewpoint and in regard to the relations between the artworks themselves and between artworks and the public.

The 34th Bienal will effectively begin in March 2020, with the first of three solo shows, which will occupy specific areas of the Bienal Pavilion, before coming together, in other configurations, in the larger exhibition, where they can be seen and read establishing other relations. These shows will be produced and curated in collaboration with international institutions that will host them in their programming starting in 2021. Additionally, three short-term events of a more performative character are also planned for the period between March and August 2020.

The 34th Bienal will also transform spatially. Initially, the area of the exhibition will only be the surface occupied in the Bienal Pavilion by each of the shows, but this will increase until the building is entirely taken over starting in September, when the Bienal will also expand to other cultural institutions in the city. The collaboration with other cultural spaces in São Paulo is aimed at sparking a dialogue emphasizing the importance of jointly constructed exchanges and relationships, central strategies of the project. This goal goes hand-in-hand with the movement of articulation and opening to the city that the Fundação Bienal has been undertaking in recent years, a reflection of the institution’s ceaseless questioning in regard to its own role within a constantly transforming art scene, which to a large extent was constituted by contributions from the Bienal.

Finally, in terms of its depth, the 34th Bienal will initially be articulated around in-depth statements and will later be opened to dialogue and a network of relationships. “The first episodes of the Bienal, consisting of solo shows, can be considered as standalone statements. Gradually, as the building becomes increasingly occupied, these exhibitions will begin to be placed in relation with other artworks and other reflections, becoming part of a more complex and interlinked discussion, which, in its final stage, will expand to the city,” explains the curator. These collaborations will be detailed by the curator and his team in close dialogue with each institution.

A Bienal that embraces São Paulo

By proposing a network of cultural connections, the 34th Bienal aims to strengthen the articulating role that the Bienal de São Paulo has played historically in the Brazilian scene, considering both the current scenario as well as the specificities and diversity of the local institutions, with which the Fundação Bienal seeks to build relationships in an entirely new way. There is thus a close fit between the curatorial proposal and the Fundação’s institutional goals, essential for the realization of this project.

“The Fundação Bienal is beginning a cycle of opening to the world and deepening the links it has been establishing with the city in recent years. With a proposal that seeks to bring everyone around a common project, the 34th Bienal is a milestone in the affirmation of the institution,” says José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.

Through its engagement with this network and its multifaceted composition, the 34th Bienal seeks to present a plural and transforming view of contemporary artistic production and of the moment in which we live.

Partner institutions

The following institutions will participate in the 34th Bienal de São Paulo:

Associação Cultural Videobrasil
Casa do Povo
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
Centro Cultural São Paulo
Centros Culturais da Cidade de São Paulo
Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado – FAAP

Instituto Bardi / Casa de Vidro
Instituto Moreira Salles
Instituto Tomie Ohtake
Itaú Cultural
Japan House São Paulo
Museu Afro Brasil
Museu da Cidade de São Paulo
Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo – MAC USP
Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand – MASP
Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo – MAM São Paulo
Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia – MuBE
Museu Lasar Segall
Pinacoteca de São Paulo
Sesc São Paulo

34th Bienal de São Paulo

Chief curator: Jacopo Crivelli Visconti
Adjunct curator: Paulo Miyada
Guest curators: Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez
Starting March 2020

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