32nd Bienal de São Paulo - A to C

Bienal de São Paulo

Incerteza Viva, the thematic of this edition, reunited artists from around the world. Get to know their works!

ALIA FARID
1985, KUWAIT. LIVES IN KUWAIT AND PUERTO RICO

Alia Farid works in a hybrid field between art and architecture, encouraging critical thinking about urban spaces. Her projects are manifested in the form of interventions, videos and installations. For the 32nd Bienal, the artist produced a video on the constructions of the Rashid Karami International Fair in Tripoli, Lebanon (1963), which was designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who also designed some of the Ibirapuera Park’s buildings on the occasion of São Paulo’s 4th centennial. Both are projects of great proportions made for gatherings and public use.

However, the history of each city resulted in very different developments. The park is known as one of the major cultural and leisure venues in São Paulo, whereas the fair in Tripoli had its construction interrupted in 1975 due to financial problems and the onset of the Lebanese Civil War, which lasted until 1990. In a perpetual state of ruin, these structures have housed ammunition, militias, and refugees and are used for concerts and as a recreational space. Farid’s film, Ma’arad Trablous [The Exhibition of Tripoli] (2016), addresses the adaptation, translation, and uses of architectural concepts for distinct geographic regions and how these constructions perform in different cultural, social and political circumstances.

ALICIA BARNEY
1952, CALI, COLOMBIA. LIVES IN BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA

Alicia Barney’s work raises questions related to ecology, strongly criticizing the capitalist model of development and its relationship with nature. Some of her works link elements of the landscape to environmental issues, such as when she exhibits polluted water collected from the Cauca River in Colombia (Río Cauca, 1981-1982) or air collected from an industrial zone and exposed in glass cubes (Yumbo, 1980).

Convinced that aspects of daily life integrate into artistic practice, Barney also developed installations consisting of objects and materials gathered from her surroundings (Diario objeto I and II, 1977 and 1978-1979 and Un día en la montaña [A Day at the Mountain], a piece from series II).

Through the idea of a female-shaman artist, she underscores the magical or ritualistic character of her connection with these objects, reclaiming the acts of the Pre- Hispanic indigenous peoples. In Valle de Alicia [Valley of Alicia] (2016), Barney interferes with the scenery of the Ibirapuera Park, constructing an instrument out of tubes, resembling an organ, to be randomly played by the wind.

Along with the instrument, sculptures of mushrooms made of paper and resin are also installed, adding a psychedelic layer to the landscape, linking action to chance, stimulating the senses and altering our perception of everyday life.

ANA MAZZEI
1980, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL. LIVES IN SÃO PAULO

In her works, Ana Mazzei draws on literature and theatre to bring instances of observation and acting into her installations, sculptures, drawings, photographs and performances. By making use of the imaginary of epic or mythological narratives, her installations suggest a performance where it is not clear who is observing and who is being observed.

Mazzei’s objects and sculptures are understood in relation to the body and make us reflect on how our notion of orientation, positioning and organization impact on the way we relate to space. The artist uses images that evoke the history of painting, many of which are Biblical metaphors but also political symbolisms and scientific and philosophical speculations about the universe.

For instance, when examining the expression of ecstasy – so widely present in Western art history – she correlates the sacred gesture with early psychiatry studies, where the same expression was linked to hysteria cases.

With Espetáculo [Spectacle] (2016), the artist proposes a new territory for action in which objects are placed in the ambiguous position of being the main characters of a theatre play with no action, or the audience of an act that takes place in the body of the visitor. Her forms relate to astrological studies or devices for a science unlike the one we know.

ANAWANA HALOBA
1978, LIVINGSTONE, ZAMBIA. LIVES IN OSLO, NORWAY

Anawana Haloba’s artistic practice is an ongoing investigation process into positions of different societies within varied political, social, economic and cultural contexts, ideological and post-independence frameworks.

Her artistic practice is symbiotically linked to and through her preparatory exercise in drafting poetry in the forms of sketches from which the artist abstracts to performative based artworks within moving image, installation, and sound, while creating situations where the material culture of any given place can be probed and reconsidered within the scheme of rapidly shifting contemporary subjectivities.

For the 32nd Bienal, Haloba presents Close-Up (2016), an installation with sound elements revolving around salt rocks that, over a period of time, undergo a process of liquefaction. Close-Up makes reference to the bodily fluids of humans, minerals found in landscapes and the historical significance of salt as a means of exchange.

The melting and trickling of the salt is a slow, timed, and amplified process that ultimately leads to relief on the one hand and extinction on the other.

ANTONIO MALTA CAMPOS
1961, SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL. LIVES IN SÃO PAULO

In Antonio Malta Campos’ trajectory, which began in the mid-1980s, we see a continuous plastic research around drawing and painting into which he applies a vast repertoire that ranges from modernist artistic paradigms to the languages of mass culture. Both his large diptychs, and his set of small graphic exercises – called Misturinhas [Little Mixtures]– reveal the artist’s technical refinement and his insurgency against the visual comfort of geometric precision and the distinctions between the abstract and the figurative.

In the 32nd Bienal, Malta presents two sets of paintings, one created between 2015 and 2016, and another from the Misturinhas series produced between 2000 and 2016. In the first, whith the assistance of Antonia Baudouin, the artist confronts the harmonic tradition of pictorial formalism with a graphic irony, evoking anamorphisms, chromatic contrasts and changes in scale.

The Misturinhas, in turn, are central in his research. Little compositions in gouache and coloured pencil; unrestrained strokes of drawing in pencil, pen, or India ink; and cutouts of prints and stickers, they resist to easy classification.

BÁRBARA WAGNER
1980, BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL. LIVES IN RECIFE, PERNAMBUCO, BRAZIL

Brazilian Brega is a style of music, dance, cultural scene and creative economy from the periphery of Recife, in the northeast of Brazil. Broken up into two trends, Funk and Romantic, it consists of networks of MCs, DJs, dancers, producers, entrepreneurs, and followers. Its hits – erotic, ironic, whining and, in some cases, even chauvinistic – extrapolate the socioeconomic boundaries of neighborhoods and participate in the soundscape of a city that is convulsive in its differences.

Taking a documentary approach, Mestres de Cerimônias [Masters of Cerimony] (2016) records the making of brega music videos, a powerful element for the propagation of imagery on the border of precarity and ostentation. Brega becomes the voice and self-esteem in the face of the dominating parameters of identity and taste.

Bárbara Wagner, in partnership with Benjamin de Burca, deconstructs this phenomenon in the film Estás vendo coisas [You Are Seeing Things](2016), in order to analyze it by revealing its uniqueness, its circulation, as well as existing relationships between its agents. The Planeta Show nightclub hosted the experiment of a collective, photographed and filmed portrait, which, as such, challenges photography’s accuracy.

The result, while still documentary, is partially obscured by the artificial studio lighting, dressing room, stage and screen, with characters who play themselves.

BENÉ FONTELES
1953, BRAGANÇA, PARÁ, BRAZIL. LIVES IN BRASÍLIA, BRAZIL

Marked by an interest in rituals, Bené Fonteles’ artistic productions include installations, sculptures and manifestos that are in dialogue with environmental issues, popular knowledge, and the desire to merge the ‘Brazilian being’ and the ‘universal being’. Since the 1970s, Fonteles has undertaken trans-disciplinary projects that go beyond art boundaries, calling himself an ‘artivist’.

Ágora: OcaTaperaTerreiro (2016) gathers important traces of his trajectory, such as symbolic syncretism and co-creation. Inside the Bienal Pavilion, Fonteles proposes a thatched roof building with taipa [clay] walls, material typically used in indigenous and caboclo housing.

The title of the work carries the desire to merge many times and knowledges, having the terreiro as a reference for a place for celebrations and offerings. The installation includes compositions of organic materials, remnants from the sea, traditional artifacts and objects collected by Fonteles during his journeys through different regions of the country.

Textures, sounds and smells constitute the space that harbors exchanges between artists, musicians, shamans, educators and the public by means of a continuous program. The terreiro and the practices developed in it are an invitation for everyone to act on the transmutation of reality and the re-enchantment of the world.

CARLA FILIPE
1973, AVEIRO, PORTUGAL. LIVES IN PORTO, PORTUGAL

Carla Filipe’s production draws on the appropriation of objects and documents, or is constructed by means of the permeable relationship between art objects, popular culture and activism. In her research the artist uses a range of materials and elements such as flags, posters, newspapers and railroad artifacts, and she also makes interventions in abandoned and decayed places.

In Migração, exclusão e resistência [Migration, Exclusion and Resistance] (2016), Filipe’s point of departure is a project that began in 2006, which proposed the construction of vegetable-gardens and parks in urban environments, establishing the collective use of private spaces or the appropriation of public ones destined for other purposes. By articulating different ways of life, the artist questions the idea of property and broadens the notion of survival.

This work tells us about species in danger of extinction, little-known edible plants, and plants that grow in unexpected places. In this proposal, the artist creates the conditions to think about spontaneous forces of resistance that act as selfmanaged cells, and which represent reactions to the capitalist rules of urban life, derived from hierarchical and private initiatives.

CARLOS MOTTA
1978, BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA. LIVES IN NEW YORK, USA

Carlos Motta investigates forms of representation of subjectivities and the construction of visual and cultural discourses that originate from them, focusing on identities and politics transversed by sexuality and gender. In his works, memory and history not only correspond to the past, but are also critical tools for the present, through which an oppressive idea of normativity is questioned while providing an opening to other practices and subjectivities.

Towards a Homoerotic Historiography (2013-2014) examines the role of colonization in the processes of oppressing native peoples' sexuality. By addressing the relationships between religion, law, sin and crime, the work exposes the way in which practices and discourses of violence affected the bodies and the subjectivities in these peoples, erasing customs and behaviors at odds with the colonizing Christian morals.

In the series Untitled Self-Portraits (1998/2016), Motta explores the creation of hybrid personifications of gender and race. They are fictional characters that present the body as material subject to transformations, evincing the malleability of identity, the politics of difference, and the broadening of the horizons of representation.

CAROLINA CAYCEDO
1978, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. LIVES IN LA JAGUA, COLOMBIA, AND LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA

Carolina Caycedo’s artistic practice focuses on discussing contexts impacted by large-scale, infrastructure construction projects of a developmental nature. In her recent research, she analyzes the environmental and social damage resulting from the building of dams and the controlling of the natural courses of water

By means of her involvement with groups and communities affected by these transformations, the artist investigates ideas of flow, assimilation, resistance, representation, control, nature and culture. A Gente Rio–Be Dammed [The People River-Be Dammed] (2016) is a project that consists of research in archives, field studies and activities with the riverside communities affected by the privatization of waters.

The works produced for the 32nd Bienal address the life involved in these rivers and their shores. The work is comprised of distinct elements, such as montages of satellite photographs of the Itaipu Power Plant, the Belo Monte Dam and the Bento Rodrigues Dam before and after the disaster (Mariana, Minas Gerais); a video shot by Caycedo in these regions;

cast nets collected during her field research inserted in the gaps between the levels of the Bienal Pavilion; and drawings that tell the narratives of the rivers Yuma (Colombia), Yaqui (Mexico), Elwha (USA), Watu, also known as Doce River, and Iguaçu (Brazil), as living entities possessing their own histories.

CECILIA BENGOLEA & JEREMY DELLER
1979, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA. LIVES IN PARIS, FRANCE \ 1966, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM. LIVES IN LONDON

Choreographer, dancer and performer Cecilia Bengolea collaborates with artist Jeremy Deller in this project that explores contemporary pop culture phenomena, mainly music and dance, to think about their relationships with the economy, work conditions, and political systems. In a complex entanglement of traditional and modern influences and aligned with specific cultural and political contexts, the artists examine movements of identitarian resistance and affirmation of gender, sexuality and behavior.

Popular dance associated with musical styles has produced a variety of trends within urban culture in recent decades. In the same manner as Break, Voguing and Twerk, the dance and music style Dancehall spotlights body language, and formulates a peculiar, combative and, at times, sexualized choreography. This genre, extremely popular in Jamaica, is the subject of Bengolea and Deller’s video Bombom’s Dream (2016).

CHARLOTTE JOHANNESSON
1943, MALMÖ, SWEDEN. LIVES IN SKANÖR, SWEDEN

Trained as a weaver, Charlotte Johannesson began to make tapestries as art in the 1970s. Her works satirised mainstream politics and often consisted of feminist and engaged commentaries on global events. In Chile Echoes in My Skull (1973/2016), for instance, she appears as a tormented witness who weaves an image of blood flowing from the open veins of Latin America on the occasion of General Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 military coup. In 1978, Johannesson traded her loom for an Apple II Plus, the first generation of personal computers.

Teaching herself to program she used the same dimensions on the computer as she had on the weave (239 pixels on the horizontal side and 191 pixels on the vertical). Funded by The National Swedish Board for Technology and Development, she started the Digital Theatre with her partner, Sture Johannesson, in Malmö, Sweden. Existing between 1981 and 1985, the Digital Theatre was a technoutopia in miniature and Scandinavia’s first digital arts laboratory. Here Charlotte Johannesson set out to create ‘micro-performances’ with artistic as well as commercial purposes: digital graphics on screen and in print, and computer experiments in real time.

CRISTIANO LENHARDT
1975, ITAARA, RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BRAZIL. LIVES IN RECIFE, PERNAMBUCO, BRAZIL

With ordinary materials and an attentive eye, Cristiano Lenhardt creates an ‘animal world’. Animal, because it invests in the rudimentary, simple and poor, disconsidering the idea of erudition that for white Western civilization often depends upon wealth. Animal, because it is kept in a savage state, uncivilized, oblivious to aesthetic habits, as well as those of power and class. In the outskirts of a Brazil taken over by monocultures and cycles of exploitation, this made-up place, half real, half imaginary, builds up vital energy for creating that survives and is able to transgress through sheer kindness rather than conflict.

In Trair a espécie [To Betray the Species] (2014-2016), a herd of inhuman beings spreads out and expands throughout the building. Even if made from yams, they cease to be food and gain a physical body, and transcendence. Regarding their state, only time will tell, since they are as much a life in decay as a root that consolidates and grows.

Uma coluna [A Column] (2016), in turn, took shape out of a performance on the opening of the 32nd Bienal, when sixty dancers braided the building’s architectural columns with multi-colored ribbons, in a folkloric dance known as the maypole of ribbons. The choreography creates a handcrafted web spanning the building’s three floors, resulting in a sort of infinite column, a mantra of continuity inwards and outwards, even if, after the action, it is established as a sculpture.

Credits: Story

Artists:
A to C
D to G
H to K
L to Q
R to Z

32nd BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO

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