I chose to attend the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo because it is situated in the global south, on the outskirts of the historically Eurocentric art discourse. As one of the the largest international art venues to represent Latin American artists, I decided that it was an important event to attend as my first ever biennial experience. Considering the biennial as a claim to the nation’s global and local relevance in the contemporary art world, do some artists’ creative practices transcend or even defy national categorization? In what ways do artists illustrate their multiple belongings?
My research revolves around place, space, context and their role within artist identity politics. The theme of “uncertainty” seemed particularly relevant to my work since place, space, and context are all in flux and therefore uncertain. “Global warming and its impact on our habitats, the extinction of species and the loss of biological and cultural diversity, rising economic and political instability, injustice in the distribution of the Earth’s natural resources, global migration and the frightening spread of xenophobia” are just some of the themes the biennial considers.
I knew nothing about Brazil and nothing about this city but I landed here. My initial intention was to attend the biennial religiously but since being here I have realized that I value face-to-face time with the artists of Sao Paulo much more than contemplating object-based work alone, for hours on end, without the artist himself/herself present. I’ve come to Brazil at a turbulent time. So, more than the object-based art made just a bit before the intense political uprisings I’ve thus experienced, I am interested in the “now.” I believe it is a critical time to explore how artists here are navigating their place within Brazil’s political context.