Reading time: 3 minutes
São Paulo, Brazil
September 6, 2014 – December 7, 2014
With Agnieszka Piksa, Alejandra Riera and UEINZZ, Ana Lira, Anna Boghiguian, Archivo F.X. / Pedro G., Romero, Armando Queiroz with Almires Martins and, Marcelo Rodrigues, Arthur Scovino, Asger Jorn, Asier, Mendizabal, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Bik, Van der Pol, Bruno Pacheco, Chto Delat, Clara Ianni and Débora Maria da Silva, Dan Perjovschi, Danica Dakić, Éder Oliveira, Edward Krasiński, El Hadji Sy, Erick, Beltrán, Etcétera… and León Ferrari, Gabriel Mascaro, Giuseppe Campuzano Museum of Peru, Graziela, Kunsch, Lilian L’Abbate Kelian, Urbânia 5 Magazine, Gülsün Karamustafa, Halil Altındere, Hudinilson Jr., Imogen Stidworthy, Ines Doujak and John Barker, Jakob Jakobsen and María Berríos, Jo Baer, Johanna Calle
How to (…) things that don’t exist
The 31st Bienal de São Paulo is curated by Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente and Oren Sagiv with associate curators Benjamin Seroussi and Luiza Proença. The title – “How to (…) things that don’t exist” is a poetic invocation of art’s ability to create new objects, thoughts and possibilities. The sentence has a variable formula that constantly changes, anticipating the actions that might make present in contemporary life the things that don’t exist, are not recognized, or have not yet been invented.
With 81 projects and more than 100 participants from 34 countries, totaling around 250 artworks on display, the exhibition has been conceived as journey through the Pavilion divided into three different areas: park area, ramp area and columns area.
The ground floor is called the Park (Area A), and is opened up to the surrounding landscape and the different users of Ibirapuera Park, to become a space for perfomances, saraus and all the activities of the discursive Programme in Time (please check schedule for details). The Ramp (Area B1, B2 and B3) adapts to the verticality and the circulation of the pavilion’s main access route to create a series of curvaceous spaces linked by a monumental spiral. Here, the artworks and projects are shown without enclosing rooms, and are related to each other both vertically and horizontally. The Columns (Area C) articulates the largest continuous space of the pavilion on the second floor, dividing it into areas of light and shadow through which the integrity of different projects is emphasised.
Along the journey, visitors will encounter projects that are grounded in contemporary life and particularly touch on aspects of religion, social conflict, sexuality, ecology, and identity. “In the 31st Bienal, we have tried to bring together artists that tackle the complexities of today when the end of the modern meets the still uncertain beginnings of a new system of thinking”, suggests the curatorial team. “In this transitional time, artists no longer need to claim a special area of skill or knowledge. They are, like many others, searching for a new ethics and mode of existing by which to order their lives and contribute to society.”
Therefore the aesthetic criteria of modernism and the striving towards progress are not prominent in the 31st Bienal. This approach to the recent past means that a different hierarchy of sources and inspirations can be established, one that recognizes the possibilities of the pre-modern and the non-modern today and embraces the spiritual and popular culture to offer different readings of contemporary conditions. It also means that the influence of collective imagination, social activism and political conflict is as significant as the heritage of artistic practice to the artists in the 31st Bienal.
The use of the word ‘project’ is intended to create a distance from the traditional idea of an autonomous artwork made in a studio by an artist and look at the network of connections with contemporary cultural practices and disciplines. The term also serves to encourage collaboration and trans-disciplinary ways of working amongst the Bienal participants. More than half the projects have been made specifically for this exhibition, many by international artists who have produced work in response to a residency in the city and the opportunity to travel further in Brazil.