The 32nd Bienal de São Paulo: Live Uncertainty launches in Brazil

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The 32nd Bienal de São Paulo is a “collective process” that began a year ago with the involvement of teachers, students, artists, activists, indigenous leaders, educators, scientists and thinkers in Brazil and abroad.
Curated by Jochen Volz and co-curators Gabi Ngcobo (South Africa), Júlia Rebouças (Brazil), Lars Bang Larsen (Denmark) and Sofía Olascoaga (Mexico), the exhibition will be held from September at São Paulo’s Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, featuring 340 works by 81 artists and collectives while “seeking to reflect on the possibilities offered by contemporary art to harbor and inhabit uncertainties,” the gallery said in a statement.
“Today the Bienal’s role is to act as a platform which actively promotes diversity, freedom and experimentation, at the same time exercising critical thought and proposing other possible realities,” says Volz.
Live Uncertainty is assembled like a garden in which themes became an integrated whole. It is not organized into chapters, but fundamentally based on the dialogues between different art works.
Most of the artistic projects were commissioned specifically for the 32nd Bienal, not to illustrate a theoretical or thematic framework, but to expand the creative principles of uncertainty in many different directions.
A number of works look directly at nature and biological, botanical and alchemical processes: the mushroom laboratory created by Nomeda and Gedeminas Urbonas, the drawings, films, and collages developed by Carolina Caycedo, based on a ressearch about hydroelectric plants and dams, and the installation with projections and physicochemical experiments by Susan Jacobs.
At the same time, a gaze at historical narratives guides the paintings of Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi, the never-before-seen presentation of a selection of archives from the collective Vídeo nas Aldeias; Lais Myrrha’s work on indigenous and urban methods of construction and Rita Ponce de León’s sculpture, to name but a few examples.
A critical examination of political, economic and mediatic structures of power and representation is at the heart of the work by Hito Steyerl, whose video-installation Hell Yeah We Fuck Die (2016) is based on the five most popular words in the English song titles of this decade, and the studies on gender and discourse that guide the work of Henrik Olesen, Katia Sepúlveda and Luiz Roque, among others. Also included in the exhibition are works that trigger the imagination and test alternative paths for the future, such as Ágora: OcaTaperaTerreiro by Bené Fonteles – a space for celebrations and rituals involving musicians, shamans, educators and the public – or Oficina de Imaginação Política [Workshop of Political Imagination], a set of work sessions, presentations and debates coordinated by Amilcar Packer.
Titled ARROGATION, Koo Jeong A’s installation is a skate ramp built inside Ibirapuera Park and intended for public use, inviting skateboarders to new experiences of displacement and experimentation in the space. Conceived of by Jorge Menna Barreto in partnership with networks of sustainable food production such as agroforests, organic farmers and systems dedicated to replenishing soil and biodiversity, Restauro is a work of art that functions as a restaurant inside the exhibition whose menu is based on plants. In this way, the garden becomes a model, both metaphorically and methodologically, with a variety of spaces that favor experience and activation.
Live Uncertainty is on from September 7th to December 11th, 2016 at the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, Sao Paulo

Tom Seymour

Tom Seymour is an Associate Editor at The Art Newspaper and an Associate Lecturer at London College of Communication. His words have been published in The Guardian, The Observer, The New York Times, Financial Times, Wallpaper* and The Telegraph. He has won Writer of the Year and Specialist Writer of the year on three separate occassions at the PPA Awards for his work with The Royal Photographic Society.