Incerteza Viva, the thematic of this edition, reunited artists from around the world. Get to know their works!
1978, London, United Kingdom. Lives in London
The language mobilized by physical and digital objects that populate the imagery of contemporary consumerist society is the main raw material in Heather Phillipson’s installations and videos. Images of online advertising, plush toys, and emojis used in virtual messaging apps appear in the spaces the artist creates through collages, collisions, superimpositions, and unexpected associations.
The installations reveal the artist is driven by an investigation of the ways that the subjective articulation of emotions, affections, and desires is constructed and manipulated within this heterogeneous set of cultural references. Phillipson also works as a writer and a poet, often presenting readings of text in her videos, juxtaposed with soundtracks constructed according to the same fragmentary logic.
TRUE TO SIZE (2015-2016) consists of videos and audio recordings produced in this way, combined with life-size sculptures. It is a suite of scenes that deals with devastation – extreme weather, extreme hygiene, virtual sex, over-communication, warfare, imminent extinction, afterlife, floods and, in its broadest sense, consumption and desire. Due to the scale of the objects and images, they momentarily escape the banality with which they are consumed on a daily basis.
1967, Esbjerg, Denmark. Lives in Berlin, Germany
Henrik Olesen works across various media and materials. Through his art he critically portrays social life, deconstructs the canonical foundations of official narratives and re-writes history without the boundaries and taboos of oppressive cultural dualities.
In this practice of resistance, in which he questions the patriarchal, heteronormative Eurocentric subject – the basis of Western political and cultural traditions – Olesen encourages a different reading of art history, literature and science. He discusses sexualities and genders, identities and ethnicities, and demystifies the body, making its place in society evident and promoting its reinvention.
The works commissioned by the 32nd Bienal consist of collages in which the artist deconstructs universal knowledge surrounding the place or concept of Hell and its representations, from classical literature such as "The Divine Comedy", the epic poem by the Dante Alighieri – to modern and subcultural imaginaries of darkness and confusion.
1966, Munich, Germany. Lives in Berlin, Germany
From writing to producing films and installations, Hito Steyerl addresses issues concerning art, philosophy and politics. The artist makes film essays, a genre that reinforces a practice in which texts, conferences and image production border on theoretical and artistic practices. Steyerl deals with the arena of confrontation between art and politics in a world that is overpopulated with images.
The video installation Hell Yeah Fuck We Die (2016), commissioned for the 32nd Bienal, resembles a parkour training module – a sport dedicated to overcoming obstacles – and features synchronized videos, whose images were collected from various online sources. In these videos, robots are provoked and scourged in different ways in product quality-testing environments.
1981, Kolonia Koplany, Poland. Lives in Bialystok, Poland, and Munich, Germany
Iza Tarasewicz’s practice includes sculpture, performance, and drawing, often exploring dualities such as permanence and ephemerality, the organic and the artificial, the common and the extraordinary. At the 32nd Bienal, Tarasewicz presents TURBA, TURBO (2015), a sculpture consisting of a display structure inspired by both a modernist plant stand and CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, in Switzerland.
Connecting the infinitely large to the infinitesimally small by using prosaic proportions, TURBA, TURBO suggests an affiliation between the scientific and the domestic. Additionally, Tarasewicz developed a research project entitled Mbamba Mazurek, which traces the influence that the rhythm and dance of the Mazurka —whose origins date back to sixteenth century Poland in a rural region called Mazovia — has had across the world.
The Mazurka is a musical form that has blended with many Brazilian regional styles; traces can be found in forró and coco, for example. Inviting local performers to collaborate and share their knowledge, the project explores the circular relationships between labor, dance, rhythm, and community in global folk practices.
Jonathas de Andrade
1982, Maceió, Alagoas, Brazil. Lives in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil
Jonathas de Andrade works with a variety of media, including installation, photography, and film, and in research processes that have a profound collaborative character. His art discusses the failure of utopias, ideals, and world projects, especially in the context of Latin America, speculating on its late modernity.
The film O peixe [The Fish] (2016), a piece presented for the first time at the 32nd Bienal, accompanies fishermen on the tides and mangroves of the State of Alagoas, in the northeast region of Brazil, as they utilize traditional fishing techniques like nets and harpoons waiting the necessary amount of time to capture their prey.
Each fisherman acts out a form of ritual: they hold the fish in their arms until the moment of death in an embrace between predator and prey, life and death, worker and the fruit of his labor, in which the gaze – of the fisherman, the fish, the camera and the spectator – plays a crucial role. Situated in a hybrid territory between documentary and fiction, the film dialogues with the audiovisual ethnographic tradition.
1926, Chicago, Illinois, USA – 2011, San Francisco, California, USA
After studying painting in the 1940s, Jordan Belson engaged in musical and visual experiments to expand the concept of non-objective or abstract art to film, and completed in 1947 the first of his 33 films. Called by some “cosmic cinema”, Belson’s films explore the dynamic relationship between form, movement, colour, and sound.
Belson used optical printing, frameby- frame, and basic animation techniques, mirrors, kaleidoscopes, and a variety of low-tech equipment. His lesser-known graphic works were often studies for scenes in his films, such as the use of scroll paintings in his early works. The film Samadhi (1967), featured at the 32nd Bienal, is fundamental in Belson’s body of work.
Jorge Menna Barreto
1970, Araçatuba, São Paulo, Brazil. Lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Modern crop and livestock farming is the human activity that impacts and transforms the planet the most, affecting biodiversity, compacting the soil, polluting rivers and clearing forests. The Restauro [Restoration] (2016) project raises questions about the development of eating habits and their relationship with the environment, landscape, climate and life on earth.
This space for nutrition proposes a metabolic and digestive experience that is both physical and mental. Its ambience, carried out in partnership with O Grupo Inteiro, emerged from the idea of microclimates. The audios connected to the work were made by Marcelo Wasem, mainly in agroforests, where you can perceive another moment in the life of the foods that are brought for our consumption.
Restauro encourages awareness about how we use our land and the global consequences of our choices. By understanding our digestive system as a sculptural tool, diners become participants in an environmental sculpture in progress where the act of nourishing oneself regenerates and shapes the landscape in which we live.
José Antonio Suárez Londoño
1955, Medellín, Colombia. Lives in Medellín
The work of José Antonio Suárez Londoño consists of a large set of drawings and engravings that emphasize detail and illustrate, through tiny depictions, elements found in literature, music, visual culture, or in the everyday experiences of the artist.
His collection of sketchbooks resembles a methodical record of what is observed or witnessed, having an annotative character and sometimes assuming the role of a visual diary – as in the series Planas: Del 1 de enero al 31 de diciembre del año 2005 [Exercises: from January 1 to December 31, 2005], presented at the 32nd Bienal. In its pages, there are shared symbolic records, landscape details, bodies, boats, animals, plants, writings and dates that populate the sheets as discontinuous elements.
They are small parts that relate to each other without producing linear narratives or concatenated reports of experiences, thus approximating drawing to the concept of collage. His work is a type of memorial made-up of many parts, like a trace of Londoño’s passage through the world, or wanderings on the part of the living that can be transformed into images or saved from oblivion and destruction.
1962, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Lives in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Since the 1980s José Bento has been experimenting with wood sculptures on different scales, as well as with video, installation and photography. His recent production has gone beyond the practice in the studio with site-specific works, such as Chão [Floor] (2004/2016), originally presented at the Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, in 2004, and now occupying a 627m2 space in the Bienal Pavilion during the 32nd Bienal.
Parquet flooring covers an area that stretches from one end of the pavilion to the other. The repurposed material – salvaged from demolitions and renovations – is overlaid on springs, changing the surface and producing instability when walked upon. Therefore, a camouflaged topography is created suggesting ambiguity in the landscape. Do pó ao pó [From Dust to Dust] (2016), exhibited here for the first time, is made of matchboxes displayed on mobile street-stands with retractable legs. These are entirely made of Brazilian woods – such as cedar, brauna and redwood – including the matchsticks inside the boxes. The title evokes fire, and proposes a reflection on the relationship between time and matter that makes-up beginnings and ends.
1969, Christchurch, New Zealand. Lives in Auckland, New Zealand
Accessing alternative planes as a condition for creation, Kathy Barry’s drawings anchor energetic frequencies, which could be encountered as flickering gateways to multidimensional subjectivities. The watercolor series, 12 Energy Diagrams (2015- 2016), are recordings of a process that deals with what lies outside of the narrowband of human perception.
Essentially diagrammatic, they operate as a form of notated choreography, corresponding with the sequence of movement represented by the artist in the video 12 Minute Movement (2016). The dance-like sequence engages physical motion to funnel and manipulate energy in the process of building and activating a ‘Merkaba energy field’.
According to Jewish mystical tradition, the Merkaba creates a spinning, high frequency vortex of energy that allows human consciousness to access higher dimensions, folding pockets in time and space. This rotation, close to the Sufi way of creating energy vortexes by spinning, also releases a power that is meaningful in the process of world-making.
1978, Santiago, Chile. Lives in Cologne, Gemany, and Tijuana, Mexico
The work of Katia Sepúlveda draws from decolonial theory with a transfeminist and mestizo feminist bias, meaning that it transcends the idea of ‘woman’ as a political subject and white feminist theory, discussing gender, race, class, and subjective practices.
The artist works with videos, performances, collages, drawings, photographs, and sculptures. At the 32nd Bienal, she displays two works: Dispositivo doméstico [Domestic Device] (2007-2012/2016) and Feminismo Mapuche [Mapuche Feminism] (2016). The first one has three parts: a series of collages using "Playboy" magazines from 1953 to 2000, the video The Horizontal Man (2016), and an installation. The collages show how the visual language of desire is constituted, whereas the video and installation broaden this critique and demonstrate how the magazine, as a device, has contributed to creating an imaginary for the mechanisms of the body regarding design, technology, household devices, and architecture.
Feminismo Mapuche, on the other hand, is an event, a live dialogue between two activists, Margarita Calfio, from the Chilean Mapuche people, and María Celina Katukina, from the Yawanawas community, in the State of Acre, northern Brazil. Taking Bolivian communal feminism as its starting point, the artist questions whether there would also be a Mapuche feminism, adding other struggles, other enunciation spaces, and other cosmopolitics to the term feminism.
Koo Jeong A
1967, Seoul, South Korea. Lives in Berlin, Germany, and everywhere
Koo Jeong A’s installation ARROGATION (2016) is a skate park designed for public use that can be seen from inside the Bienal Pavilion. Built in the Ibirapuera Park, the skate park phosphoresces every night, inviting skateboarders’ to experience a different kind of space.
Having previously designed two skate parks, the artist is drawn to their sculptural form and their ability to promote human interactions and combine different contexts. In her investigation for the piece, Jeong A examined the transition of light during sunset. The skate park changes colour as in the twilight, providing a live and mutable dynamic to the concrete structure.
The skate-park’s shape derives from one of her drawings, in which two circles are juxtaposed, suggesting a continuous spiral. In general, Jeong A’s works intend to provoke experiences that overcome rationality and cognition in order to activate the present and the sensibility. Her practice includes installations, videos, sculptures, and drawings.
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