Didem Doğan

33rd Sao Paulo Biennial

One of the main international contemporary art events in the world the São Paulo Biennial’s 33rd edition is taking place in Biennial Pavillon inside the Iberapuera Park from 7th of September to 9th of December. The pavilion itself, signed by legendary architect Oscar Niemeyer, is iconic; a huge building in rectangular shape from the outside has curved corridors which gives a different dimension to the exhibition. The Iberapuera park has other buildings designed by Niemeyer such as the auditorium, the MAM, the Afro Culture Museum. It must have been quite a challenge to fill this twenty-five thousand metre square, three floor pavilion for the 33rd Biennial. 

The Spanish curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro worked with seven other curators, each working as a collective artist group and twelve individual artists for the 33rd edition whose conceptual theme was set as ‘Affective Affinities’ (you may read in detail curator’s thoughts about the concept on Biennial’s official site 33.bienal.org.br/en). There is a philosophical question about the relationship between the artwork and the viewer, given the current mood of the global citizen constantly stuck in a screen and connected to the world at all times, he sees the most important problem of our times paying a clear attention and invites the visitor to disconnect and experience totally the artworks exhibited at the Biennial. 

As soon as you enter the pavilion you see on the ground of the entrance floor a circle of mushroom sculptures, on the walls the painting of trees, as if they are talking to the trees outside, a relationship is set between the environment and the artwork. It is the collective work of Antonio Ballester’s ‘Common Sense’. As you move up to the first floor a labyrinth opens with the big black and white pictures of the Selknams, the Patagonian indians with their bodies painted; now an extinct culture these pictures were taken by priest-missioner and anthropologist Martin Guisinde in 1923. 

Artist Sofia Borges’ ‘The infinite history of things and the end of the tragedy of one’ is set as a philosophical questioning in reference to the Greek mythologies. There is a performance of a group of women during our visit, they make a circular group in the middle of the pavilion chanting melodies for the one in the middle as if they are healing her. At the third floor we see various sizes of stones that stand like human beings. Denis Milan’s work is inspired by these stones that look like talking to her and tell the story of the earth and the universe.

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