Incerteza Viva, the thematic of this edition, reunited artists from around the world. Get to know their works!
1986, New York, USA. Lives in New York
In her videos and installations Rachel Rose constructs narratives through the editing process and by employing a free and abundant circulation and association of videos and images. The process of overlapping layers, common in painting, is applied here to digital files, creating a hybrid imagery with strong kinesthetic potential.
A Minute Ago (2014) is a reflection on the experience of catastrophe that combines a video found on YouTube of a sudden hail storm on a beach with statements made by American architect Philip Johnson in his Glass House, which in turn are contrasted with a reproduction of the painting "The Funeral de Phocion" (1648) by Nicolas Poussin, among other elements.
Also present at the 32nd Bienal, Everything and More (2015) explores the sensation of total displacement from the Earth as related by an astronaut. Rose expresses the idea of the infinite through abstractions created out of chemistry experiments conducted with household substances juxtaposed with images from an astronaut training center. The limits between inside/outside, front/back and weight/lightness are tested by the artist to the point that distinctions are no longer recognizable – like the presence of Ibirapuera Park, the view of which merges with the installation.
1983, Ashqout, Lebanon. Lives in Beirut, Lebanon
Rayyane Tabet’s project Sósia (2016) for the 32nd Bienal originated in the fiction created by the artist about the Lebanese diaspora in Brazil and the narrative surrounding it, culminating in the hope for eventual return and rescue. The work consists in the commissioning of a translation from Portuguese to Arabic of the novel "Um copo de cólera" [A Cup of Rage] (written in 1970 and published in 1978) by Brazilian author Raduan Nassar, the son of Lebanese immigrants, and its publication in Beirut. The novel was translated by Mamede Jarouche, the man responsible for the first full Portuguese edition of One Thousand and One Nights, and it will be released by Lebanese publisher Al-Kamel Verlag.
Tabet’s work can be viewed as a circular collaboration between the artist, the author, the translator, and the publishing house; an encounter between narratives and people. The artist himself takes the role of provocateur, pushing forward an idea that has the potential to change the cultural understanding of two related but distinct societies. A recording of the artist reading the book’s famous chapter ‘The Explosion’ in Arabic can be heard at several locations throughout the exhibition. Nasser wrote the novel at the height of Brazil’s military dictatorship, addressing themes of love, lust and anger.
1970, Aalborg, Denmark. Lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Berlin, Germany
In Overspill: Universal Map (2016), Rikke Luther explores the organic and concrete nature of our world, presenting the results of a study that combines a variety of interests and references to the collapse of modern concepts of progress. The installation is composed of tile panels with drawings that relate natural landscapes and environmental catastrophes to the Global Commons (the High Sea, the Atmosphere, Outer Space and the Antartica), the exploitation of which can no longer be regulated by agreements established by the United Nations after World War II.
The installation also contains samples of oil and toxic mud taken from Mariana, in the State of Minas Gerais (Brazil). Along with these elements that examine our relationships with the places we inhabit (house, nation, planet), we also find a growth of myxomycetes, beings whose biological classification is uncertain.
Having a peculiar type of intelligence, they are able to form into networks and feed off heavy metals, capable of depolluting contaminated soil. The final piece in the ensemble is a sculpture of a prototaxites fossil – a possible ancestor of fungi, which inhabited the Earth around 400 million years ago. These beings can be traced back to an era when the planet was dominated by other forms of intelligence.
Rita Ponce de León
1982, Lima, Peru. Lives in Mexico City, Mexico
Rita Ponce de León creates installations that engage their viewers, inviting visitors to try different postures and ways of relating to their senses and to the collective. Her projects gather drawings, sculptures, and proposals for dialogue that trigger exchanges between bodies, and the reinvention of spaces. En forma de nosotros [In the Shape of Ourselves] (2016) invites visitors to place their arms, legs, face and torso inside cavities covered with clay.
The positions were defined by exercises of movements guided by the dancer Emile Sugai and then the molds of the spaces to be filled were developed from the bodies of different collaborators which are working in the 32nd Bienal’s educational program. Thus the artist creates a common landscape for us to assume various postures capable of leading to a perception of what we carry, sustain, and push forward with us by means of our bodies.
The sculptural space includes audio recordings that describe what the lives of seeds would be like, such as their connections with the land and germination, and drawings that evoke the idea of movement inside the image. In an attempt to disorganize states of consciousness and automated habits, Ponce de León invites our thoughts and feelings to resonate, be shared and transformed.
1972, Agrigento, Italy. Lives in Berlin, Germany
Rosa Barba uses film as the medium and raw material for her art. With her camera the artist tracks the vestiges of mankind’s actions in landscapes, and tries to understand how they relate to reality – how they are inscribed in the unconscious, and how they are manifest collectively in society.
The film Disseminate and Hold (2016) establishes a dialogue with the content and imaginary meanings that pervade the structure known as Minhocão (literally ‘the big worm’), the 3.5-kilometer concrete overpass built in the city of São Paulo in 1970 under the military dictatorship. Barba’s installations and site-specific works combine image, sound and text. The artist creates spaces that represent a mental state of suspension and liminal situations in which there is no separation between politics and poetry. Mechanisms of projection, including the actual cellulose film, are turned into performative sculptures, the actors in her work.
The installation White Museum (São Paulo) (2010/2016) is a projection of white light at the entrance ramp of the Bienal Pavilion, whose frame, common in photography and cinema, becomes a physical presence, an open framework that provides a visual experience of the space and interferes with the passersby.
1980, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. Lives in Glasgow, United Kingdom
Ruth Ewan is particularly interested in how ideas take shape and transform reality in specific contexts. Her projects are based on archival research, collaboration with experts, cataloging and resignifying objects and historical documents. Ewan uses these strategies for reflecting politically and critically in the present about the past of European modernity.
Back to the Fields (2015-2016) refers to the French Republican Calendar, which existed between 1793 and 1805 as a way of organizing time based on rational principles, thus renouncing the religious influence of the Gregorian calendar. The year’s subdivision into days, weeks, and months was modified to a decimal structure and the names of the months and days were changed so that they referred to aspects of the climate and agriculture of each season of the year.
The French Republican Calendar is made up of twelve months of thirty days. Each month is divided into three weeks, each week is ten days long. The final five (or six) days of the year are festival days. The numbers relate them to their corresponding day and month on the Republican Calendar. The work questions our relationship with time and life, when time no longer refers to any concrete experience with the natural world, making it an abstract unit of measurement for regulating our activities.
1971, Ludwigsburg, Germany. Lives in Frankfurt, Germany
Out of interest in their complex geometries and transformation in time and space, Sandra Kranich has used fireworks in her sculptures, pictures, and installations since the late 1990s. Pyrotechnics are momentary and sensational spectacles that divide our perception into the clear stages of before, during, and after. They are events lasting a few minutes that engrave themselves in the memory of spectators, yet generally remain visible as mere traces and remnants in exhibitions. Within the framework of museum or gallery spaces, Kranich’s practice criticizes a logic based on stability, referring instead to the moment of change and chance.
Her works blur the lines between creation and destruction, construction and deconstruction. For the 32nd Bienal, Kranich developed a series of works – R. Relief 7, 8, 9, 10 (2016) and Times Wire (2010) – one being a series of knitted pictures made of electric wire, and the other a series of colorful geometrical metal pictures. Both have been propped with explosives carefully connected to each other for an ignition choreographed by the artist. The fireworks as such occur at the opening of the exhibition, confronting the viewer with a presentation clearly marked by the transformative force of the explosion.
1935, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lives in Rio de Janeiro
A pioneer of video art in the 1970s, Sonia Andrade’s career spans mail art, drawing, photography and installation. Her work exists outside the rules of the market and the prevailing system of Brazilian art from that period. Her experimental videos place the body at the center of the action, constructed in direct relation to television as a medium.
Without spectacularization, her body engages in confrontation with the screen and the television set, at times placed at the center of the image, at others presented inside of a cage – a metaphor for the broadcast image as imprisonment. Andrade participates in the 32nd Bienal with the piece Hydragrammas (1978-1993), a set of around one hundred objects and their respective reproductions constructed out of collected materials, organizing the vocabularies of art forms and of everyday life.
The objects are part of a kind of writing in which the characters are things found in the world; scrap material that the artist provides with new place and meaning. With a neologistic title formed from the combination of the name of a writing style and that of an indomitable hybrid monster (the Lernaean Hydra), Hydragrammas is an intersection of words and images – a visual alphabet.
1977, Sydney, Australia. Lives in Melbourne, Australia, and London, United Kingdom
Susan Jacobs’s art evokes imaginaries related to alchemy and magic, employing physical-chemical phenomena as transformation agents for the materials used in her sculptures, installations and videos. Through the Mouth of the Mantle (2016) is an installation based on household experiments in which inanimate bodies seem to magically come to life.
In a kind of arena structured out of compressed sand, Jacobs combines a series of small experiments, videos, sculptures and objects, among them: a squid’s head-shaped-shovel being corroded by Gallium; the same liquid metal element transformed into a parabolic mirror by rotating inside a cup over a marble Lazy Susan; videos of the ink and mucus of a squid moving over the deck of a rocking boat; and the homemade chemistry experiment ‘black snake’. The act of observing and understanding these experiments as parts of a whole challenges our notions of what we see, perceive and feel.
Till Mycha | Helen Stuhr-Rommereim & Silvia Mollicchi
1986, Lawrence, Kansas, USA. Lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA / 1983, Sansepolcro, Italy. Lives in St-Erme, France and London, United Kingdom
Till Mycha is a duo of writers and researchers interested in recent developments in psychedelia as a method and mode of thought. Although existing as an independent agent, Till Mycha has a continued involvement with the publishing platform Fungiculture.
For the 32nd Bienal, Till Mycha present The First Decade of June (2016), a text structured around specific scenes of Homer’s 8th century BC epic the Odyssey, but drawing upon a much broader imaginary that defamiliarizes the original myth and uses the form of the epic to initiate a reflection on the adventure.
Through a set of encounters with abstract spaces that present unfamiliar environments, tasks, and thinking entities, the text explores what could constitute an aesthetic of adventure, and how this might be put to work to produce a new collective imaginary. Set to work on the Odyssey as a foundational narrative of Hellenistic and European culture, Till Mycha’s psychedelic method here allows for the forging of other perspectives and visions through which new relationships with myth and cosmogony can come into being.
1974, Durban, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg, South Africa
Inspired by A Dream Deferred, a poem by Langston Hughes, a poet writing at the time of the North- American Harlem Renaissance movement in the 1920’s, Tracey Rose’s series of sculptures titled A Dream Deferred (Mandela Balls) (2013- ongoing) is constructed as a commentary on the slow disintegration of ideals upheld in the construction of a new South Africa.
The balls carry with them accumulations of a lifetime and provoke uncertainties lugged by a nation still under construction. The work makes reference to Mandela’s testicles: his real and mythologized legacy. It also alludes to the act of castration or crushing of African males’ testicles during the colonial period. The work is still ongoing and will result in a total of 95 editions, a reference to Mandela’s age at the time of his death.
Guiding the work is a series of landmark legal cases that bring the forest and its indigenous leaders, lawyers, and scientists to court, including one such particularly paradigmatic trial, recently won by the Sarayaku people, whose case argued for the centrality of the “Living Forest” in their community’s cosmology, modes of being and ecological survival. No longer the background of political disputes, in these conflicts nature appears as a subject of rights in its own terms.
1936, Junín, Argentina – 2002, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Víctor Grippo’s installations are composed of everyday objects like food, tables and work tools removed from their usual functions and arranged in such a way as to generate systems that follow a logic of their own. The artist created such systems based on the alchemical idea of analogy, which projects hidden meanings in the physical properties of elements and materials.
In Analogía I [Analogy I] (1970/1977), the table and the dirt suggest the idea of cycle: the energy contained in the potatoes on the table returns to the earth and is renewed to once again be transformed into energy and food. In Naturalizar al hombre, humanizar a la naturaleza, or Energia vital [Man Naturalization, Nature Humanization, or Vegetal Energy] (1977), instead of wires and electrodes, we see a table covered in potatoes and lab vials containing colored liquids that represent matter’s distinct properties and stages of physical transformation.
In these works, the confirmation of the existence of energy in potatoes – released in the decaying process – allows us to imagine human conscience as energy collectively produced and transformed over time. Therefore, by analogical interpretation, our consciousness about the world is expanded and, with it, our understanding of how we are able to modify it.
Vídeo nas Aldeias
Created in 1986. Based in Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil
For three decades Vídeo nas Aldeias have mobilized discussions central to indigenous peoples and to audiovisual production and distribution. One of the project’s objectives is the training of indigenous filmmakers, destabilizing the forged narratives based on external perspectives. Ethical matters and aesthetic choices are intertwined in their productions, which address such issues as rituals, myths, cultural and political manifestations, as well as experiences of contact and conflict with whites.
Founded by the indigenist Vincent Carelli, Vídeo nas Aldeias also fundraise and circulate its productions, conduct screenings in indigenous communities, film festivals, television, and on the internet and produce educational materials. In the 32nd Bienal, the new installation O Brasil dos índios: Um arquivo aberto [The Brazil of the Indians: An Open Archive] (2016) – produced by Ana Carvalho, Tita and Vincent Carelli – sets up a space for an immersion in the images, gestures, chantings and languages of twenty different peoples, including the Xavante, Guarani Kaiowá, Fulni-ô, Gavião, Krahô, Maxakali, Yanomami and Kayapó.
1986, São Paulo, Brazil. Lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Vivian Caccuri uses sound as the vehicle to cross experiments in sensory perception with issues related to history and social justice. Through objects, installations, and performances, her pieces create situations that disorient everyday experience and, by extension, disrupt meanings and narratives seemingly as ingrained as the cognitive structure itself. At the 32nd Bienal, the artist presents TabomBass (2016), a sound system composed of stacked speakers, similar to those used at street parties.
Placed in front of them, lit candles move with the displaced air and dance to the rhythm of the deep sounds – basslines composed by artists from the city of Accra, who collaborated with Caccuri after her research in Ghana. Accra received groups of African-Brazilians after the Malê Revolt, a slave rebellion that took place in Salvador in 1835.
To this day, their descendants are known as ‘Tabom’ – because, not knowing the local languages, they answered all questions with ‘tá bom’ [roughly translated as ‘okay’]. Caccuri takes this historical background, seeking to expand connections and meanings to consider the Africa-America trajectory, proposing an encounter in which Brazilian musicians and performers improvise based on the African sounds and, through this combination, create a hybrid work of art.
1934, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Wilma Martins relates to her surroundings through drawings, engravings and paintings. In the series Cotidiano [Everyday] (1975-1984), her work process consists of various stages in which drawings and paintings come and go to and from her notebooks like visitations – at times they are sketches for later paintings, at others they are registers of compositions born on the canvas.
Seemingly ordinary domestic spaces are inhabited by wild animals and covered by forests and rivers that spring from the cracks of day- to-day life, such as a sink filled with dishes or the folds of a blanket. Playing with scale and colors, the artist makes the coexistence of supposedly incompatible worlds visible. In her work, that which may be lurking in the unconscious comes to the surface to unexpectedly cross over into the everyday routine and occupy it with an uncanny atmosphere.
Residing in Rio de Janeiro since the 1960s, Martins admires views from her home, a practice she uses to create her landscape paintings. Santa Teresa com elefantes [Saint Theresa with Elephants] (1984) and Rio de Janeiro com cristais [Rio de Janeiro with Crystals] (1986) depict new possibilities for revelation or disturbance amidst the lush vegetation and urban structures of supposedly trivial places.
1927, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lives in Rio de Janeiro
Wlademir Dias-Pino is an artist, poet, graphic designer, and window dresser. As early as the 1940s, he made his first forays into poetry and, througout the 1950s and 60s, he participated in the founding of the visual poetry movement Poema / Processo and the literary avant-guarde movement Intensivismo. His practice challenges the relationship between image and language by proposing a reading of the world through images.
The artist works this iconography by means of collage, cropping, xerox, overlaying, and digital manipulation, resulting in industrially-made figures that consist of multiple layers: a repository of visual content formed by an amalgam of images amid the shapes and colors employed by the artist. Outdoors (2015-2016), in turn, consists of a series of plates with geometric abstractions produced after landscapes, amongst architectural elements and social habits. The plates are placed at different spots in Ibirapuera Park.
1969, Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain. Lives in Donostia-San Sebastián and Barcelona, Spain
Xabier Salaberria works through and recombines syntaxes of sculpture, architecture, and industrial design. He explores processes of formalization, as well as the potentials of artistic media to become something else given their shifting material, ideological, and institutional contexts. Oscillating between signs and materials, art and something other than art, his works open up to contemplation as displaced or intransigent objects and situations.
A kind of vanishing point for what objects normally are and the norms they uphold, Salaberria’s works question their time and place in history. At the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, the venue that has housed the Bienal de São Paulo since 1957, the artist explores the relationships between the building’s architecture and the reality of its surroundings, while mobilizing local elements of the city of São Paulo and the history of the Bienal itself.
The installation Restos materiales, obstaculos y herramientas [Material Remains, Obstacles and Tools] (2016), deals with what Salaberria defines as the ‘abstract materiality’ of objects, which conditions and alters people’s circulation in the space, yielding unexpected connections between visitors, objects and the site. Images and elements of different natures seek to expand the exhibition context, stretching the limits of the exhibition room towards the city and the streets.
32nd BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO
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