Incerteza Viva, the thematic of this edition, reunited artists from around the world. Get to know their works!
1982, Brasília, Brazil. Lives in Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil
In Dalton Paula’s work objects are deprived of their original functions to become paintings. First, the covers of encyclopedias, those old-fashioned keepers of universalist knowledge, are painted over with representations of subjects and facts often omitted from their content, such as black and indigenous history and peoples. Now this procedure is repeated on a set of ceramic bowls used for food and also offerings in African-Brazilian religious rituals.
With the painting on the inside, these objects confront the hegemonic discourses of art and politics, search for new characters and reenact passages from our history. Piracanjuba (in the State of Goiás), Cachoeira, (in the State of Bahia) and Havana (in Cuba) are three cities that produce tobacco. This economic activity dates back to the colonial past and the migration of Africans enslaved in the Americas.
Paula traveled to the three points on this Rota do tabaco [Tobacco Route] (2016) to research how this heritage appears today. He found everything from the precarious work conditions in the cigarillo factories to the use of cigars as an icon of the communist revolution. In the vast imagery portrayed, tobacco is an omitted context, which reveals the contrast between black bodies and white clothes, between the invisibility of African-Brazilian culture and the curative legacies – medicinal and spiritual – extracted from tobacco.
Dineo Seshee Bopape
1981, Polokwane, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg, South Africa
For the 32nd Bienal, Dineo Seshee Bopape presents a site-specific installation titled :indeed it may very well be the ___________itself (2016). The installation is comprised of unevenly distributed compressed soil structures of various sizes in which assorted emotive objects are placed in pit constellations that resemble the structure of the Morabaraba (Mancala) and Diketo games. The objects include casts of an uterus, gold leaves, minerals, healing herbs and pieces of clay molded by a clenched fist.
The work is a contemplation of ideas and forms of containment and displacement, occupation and hosting, as well as the implied sociohistorical politics of landlessness. Bopape’s work is an intimate protest that prompts us to capture fleeting memories. The compressing of soil as a gesture of remembering brings the viewer closer to what has been deemed immaterial and/or eroded through history.
1981, Mafikeng, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg, South Africa
Donna Kukama uses performance as a means of resistance to the established artistic practices and, through it, seeks to deconstruct methods and invent procedures. Along with performance, she develops writings, videos and sound installations that use the public sphere in order to insert into the field of art voices that are foreign to this realm.
Her questioning often addresses current events through the construction of narratives and the manner in which they play out socially. It is in this sort of context that Kukama introduces her body to create imagens of counter-enactments that disavow hegemonic reports.
At the 32nd Bienal, the artist presents three chapters that comprise an extensive process in the creation of a book. The concept of book, however, does not refer to the object we know, but unfolds into performance, drawing, sculpture, video, text and oral history.
This work then takes the form of a series of public announcements accompanied by projections produced in a direct relationship with the political contexts of each of the places she has been. The chapters that Kukama presents in Brazil are: C: The Genealogy of Pain, A: The Anatomy of History and B: I, Too, which will take place in different spaces and on different days.
Ebony G. Patterson
1981, Kingston, Jamaica. Lives in Kingston and Lexington, Kentucky, USA
Ebony G. Patterson draws from references in painting to compose scenes and portraits that relate to street culture and the violent contexts of communities in Kingston, Jamaica. Transiting through various techniques, the artist uses photography as the first step in developing her compositions. She transforms the images into tapestries, which receive layers of fabrics and ornaments creating collages in mixed media.
The large panels resulting from this process explore the excess of materials, sparkle, and color as a way to shed light on the need for setting oneself apart amid consumer goods and opulence, which is so closely linked to mechanisms of social oppression.
Despite the colored surfaces, the scenes depict – in an almost mimetic manner – bodies lying on the ground, as well as casual moments of social interaction on the street. The set of panels presented in the 32nd Bienal is an attempt to draw parallels between the socio-cultural contexts of Brazil and Jamaica. As a reaction to the high murder rates of black children and youths in both countries, Patterson portrays a childhood that has potential for creating and transforming, but that at the same time suffers in the face of violent and exclusionary systems.
1979, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Lives in Buenos Aires
Eduardo Navarro explores different levels of perception and forms of changing reality and time. At times, his work fits into the delicate relationship between art and the spiritual. At others, the artist uses apparatuses and information from the field of science. Thereby he leads the public into a kind of trance through mental states that explore non-rational forms of communication, going beyond verbal language.
Navarro seems to test the transformative potential of art, creating situations where behavior, ways of thinking, and belief systems are put to the test or driven to exceed their limits. Sound Mirror (2016), presented at the 32nd Bienal, is a kind of instrument built to acoustically connect a palm tree, located outside the Bienal Pavilion, to the exhibition space.
The plant and the visitors are placed in equivalent positions, in a sonorous exchange that challenges the meanings of communication and listening. Navarro’s work points to an emotional technology capable of making us reflect on the connections that art triggers through the permeable relationship between living beings, the artist and the audience, the actors and the objects of art.
1981, Mamfe, Cameroon. Lives in South West Region of Cameroon and Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Em’kal Eyongakpa creates installations, videos and performances based on the concepts of network and system as applied in the fields of biology, botany and technology. His artworks examine the notions of balance and interference by inter-relating objects of different origins.
Rustle 2.0 (2016) consists of the creation of an environment where organic elements are confronted with others considered artificial or resulting from humankind’s impact on nature. Walls covered in mycelium evoke the idea of interconnected networks, in reference to the Internet; digital bronchi are shaped to resemble Africa and Latin America.
The ‘2.0’ in the title refers to a cybernetic system update, placing nature and culture as parts of the same whole, and not as separate or autonomous entities. Eyongakpa suggests the idea of something organic in the survival and conservation of different systems – whether digital, ecological or political – revealing an uncanny familiarity between them.
1971, São Paulo, Brazil. Lives in São Paulo
In her sculptures, drawings, photographs, paintings and installations, Erika Verzutti offers the viewer a world that seems to be suspended between fantasy and reality, abstraction and figuration, heaven and earth, building a kind of archaeo-cosmological catalogue. The artist works with real objects, from which she produces casts and replicas that she then modifies, cuts, paints and juxtaposes.
Construction materials and tools, tropical fruit and vegetables are constantly present in her sculptural collages, whose titles often refer to traditional elements from the history of Western and Brazilian art. Verzutti also explores other possibilities of construction, combining materials such as styrofoam, paper and fiber glass to form monumental sculptures and paintings.
Examples are the three panels commissioned for the 32nd Bienal: floating blocks that exhibit a mysterious set of inscriptions and symbols that hark back to a primordial idea of writing furrowed into the heavy rock walls of a cave.
At the same time, the works take us in the opposite direction of this prehistorical reference, as if they represented the night sky. Between painting and sculpture, these works give a new scale to a set of reliefs, formerly in bronze, which now are molded in papier-mâché.
1974, Santiago, Chile. Lives in New York, USA
Felipe Mujica’s projects derive from two main processes: his visual research, which involves creating spatial installations made of mobile and interactive fabrics; and the collaborative organization of exhibitions, publications, and management of cultural spaces. His research on the recent history of Latin American art, with a specific interest in experiences that connect education and modern art, permeates these practices.
A fundamental aspect of his work method is opening up his art to dialogue with other artists, visitors, and communities. In the project Las universidades desconocidas [The Unknown Universities] (2016), Mujica works in partnership with Brazilian artists Alex Cassimiro and Valentina Soares, in addition to a group called Bordadeiras do Jardim Conceição [Embroiderers of Jardim Conceição] formed by about forty female residents of this neighborhood in the city of Osasco, São Paulo.
Based on drawings by the artist both groups of collaborators created and sewed the curtains that form the installation. Produced using the same materials and different techniques, the curtains are stitched by the personal knowledge formed by different repertoires and experiences, united as complementary sides of the same reality: the collective creative work.
1959, Antwerp, Belgium. Lives in Mexico City, Mexico
The work of Francis Alÿs is based on actions proposed or practiced by the artist that unfold into videos, photographs, drawings, and paintings. Often evoking a feeling of absurdity or unreason, his works critically research political, social, and economic situations in contemporary life.
The installation conceived for the 32nd Bienal is organized into three moments and investigates the notion of catastrophe in a series of drawings of mental schemes, phenomena and ideas entitled In a Given Situation (2010-2016); landscape paintings and animated film, all Untitled (2016).
These elements are installed on the back of other images, facing mirrored walls, set at a degree of inclination. The reflected images of the public, the pavilion, and the park, also become an integral part of the project, which invites us to question our relationship – and the institutional and urban environment in which we operate – to the different situations and notions of catastrophe discussed by Alÿs.
1921, Kozienice, Poland. Lives in Nova Viçosa, Bahia, Brazil
In his artistic and ecological experience, which is marked by his decision in the 1970s to establish residence in Nova Viçosa, Bahia, Frans Krajcberg finds in the diversity and exuberance of the flora, the raw materials and plasticity that qualify and compose his sculptural work, as well as his prints, paintings, drawings and photographs.
The use of nature as theme and material for his works is consistent with his defense of the environment. Among the numerous works developed throughout his career, three sets of sculptures – dubbed Gordinhos, Bailarinas and Coqueiros – gain prominence in the exhibition space of the Bienal’s modernist pavilion by occupying part of the ground floor and creating a transitional environment between the park’s outdoor area and the building’s interior.
Remnants of charred wood, trunks, vines and roots are transformed through whittling, carving, decomposing and painting.
Emerging from this labor, these selfsupporting pieces of varying scales and dimensions are created and then arranged amidst the rational elements of this monumental architecture.
1984, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA. Lives in Lisbon, Portugal
Gabriel Abrantes explores cinematographic language in his production of films and videos – he writes, directs, and produces and often acts in them. He addresses historical, political and social matters while discussing postcolonial, gender and identity issues.
His works create layers of unlikely readings by altering traditional narratives and touch upon the absurd, folklore, humour and politics. Os humores artificiais [The Artificial Humours] (2016), was shot in Mato Grosso (Canarana and the Yawalapiti and Kamayura villages inside the Xingu Indigenous Park) and São Paulo.
Blending a certain Hollywood aesthetic with typical approaches found in documentaries, the film tells the story of a journey of an indigenous comedian who joins a robot and becomes famous in Brazil’s mainstream cultural industry.
The uncanny film makes an issue of the humorous habits of various indigenous groups in contrast to progress and artificial intelligence.
1928, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil – 2013, Recife
Gilvan Samico presents myths and cosmologies replete with symbologies in his engravings. His compositions’ symmetry and verticality are the values that organize narratives about nature – an environment which men and women are part of – and sacred events that relate to earthly life. He began his practice as a selftaught artist in Recife, but studied under the tutelage of Lívio Abramo and Oswaldo Goeldi. Samico’s printmaking was done in a meticulous and manual process.
The production of each print featured at the 32nd Bienal took Samico a year of work – all of them made between 1975 and 2013. Influenced by folk art from the Northeast of Brazil, his work makes reference to cordel literature and the Movimento Armorial – with his meeting with Brazilian writer Ariano Suassuna being an important turning point in his career.
ased on local stories, Samico draws a visual history that includes several cosmologies on the formation of the world, as well as a study of works such as the "Memoria del Fuego" trilogy, by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano published between 1982 and 1986. The titles of the works function as keys for interpretation that, along with the images, reveal layers that belong to and populate the imaginary of so many cultures.
1968, Lisbon, Portugal. Lives in Berlin, Germany
Grada Kilomba is a writer, theorist and artist who activates and produces decolonial knowledge by weaving relationships between gender, race and class. Her oeuvre consists of different formats and registers, such as publications, staged readings, lectureperformances, video installations and theoretical texts, creating a hybrid space between academic knowledge and artistic practice.
From the dual gesture of decolonizing thought and performing knowledge Kilomba leaps from text to performance and gives body, voice and image to her writings. At the 32nd Bienal, the artist presents two distinct projects. The Desire Project (2015-2016), a video installation divided into three parts: While I Speak, While I Write and While I Walk, videos whose only visual element is the written word and which indicates the emergence of a speaker who has been historically silenced by colonial narratives.
Illusions (2016) is a performance which employs video projections and the African tradition of storytelling. The reading introduces the myths of Narcissus and Echo as metaphors for a colonial past and politics of representation that only reflect themselves.
1981, Ankara, Turkey. Lives in Istanbul, Turkey
Güneş Terkol challenges imaginaries related to the feminine based on personal or collective histories shared by women at workshops organized as part of her research and work process. Embroidering, a practice culturally attributed to the domestic setting and the labor of women, takes on public and political layers in her production.
At the 32nd Bienal, she presents the series Couldn’t Believe What She Heard (2015) and The Girl Was Not There (2016). In the former, Terkol creates images in which elements related to the stereotype of the ‘feminine world’ – polished fingernails, hair, shoes – are contrasted with fragments of bodies whose gender is undefined, in an open montage, while in the latter series she reclaims the mystical and idyllic character of nature.
The coloring comes from organic materials such as onions, tobacco leaves, avocados and beetroots, composing landscapes or scenes that blend ornamental elements, empty frames and invented figures. The fabric used by Terkol subverts the apparent fragility of the works and their transparency allows us to glimpse the compositions, multiplying and deconstructing the imaginaries of the feminine and nature.
32nd BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO
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