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28th Bienal Internacional de São Paulo

Marina Abramović » Eija-Liisa Ahtila » Eriel Araújo » Sophie Calle » Mircea Cantor » Peter Friedl » Joan Jonas » Armin Linke » Cristina Lucas » Javier Peñafiel » Vibeke Tandberg » & others

Exhibition: – 8 Dec 2008

Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Parque Ibirapuera, Portão 3
04094-000 São Paulo

Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Parque Ibirapuera, Portão 3
04094-000 São Paulo

+55 11-55745922


28th BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO: “in living contact”

By its own definition, the Bienal should fulfill two major tasks: place Brazil’s modern art not merely in confrontation with, but also in living contact with the art of the world, while simultaneously seeking a position for São Paulo as a world art center.
[Lourival Gomes Machado, “Apresentação”. in: I Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, 1951, p. 14].

The 28th Bienal de São Paulo proposes a different format from its previous editions, so as to offer a platform for observation and reflection upon the culture and system of biennials within the international art circuit. In order to do so it articulates exhibition, debate and dissemination strategies, taking its own experience as a case study, considering the deep changes that have taken place in the specific cultural context in which it is set (that of Brazil and Latin America) as well as those occurring in the world at large, because of the globalization of economic and cultural relationships, and the popularization of contemporary art through exhibitions in museums, fairs and biennials. In this sense, the 28th Bienal has reduced the number of participating artists while diversifying activities in the exhibition space. It thus proposes a re-directioning in the model of seasonal shows, meeting the demands of artistic practices and of the political and cultural debate, and facing the disruptive maelstrom of the production of representations and interpretations that comprise the realm of visuality today. Instead of trying to produce an all-encompassing and representative vision of the phenomenon of art today, it seems to be more important to sketch out specificities, and produce structural cartographies, setting in motion a process of investigative and critical, regular and systematic work that will keep pace with and productively account for movements and changes perceived within a given artistic circuit.

Since part of contemporary artistic practices are not restricted to the production of a single object to be contemplated in the same place and time, the 28th Bienal proposes a range of exhibition and dissemination apparatuses that can more specifically mediate contact between the audience and the production of knowledge in a collective event of such scope. This edition of the Bienal is therefore made up of the following components, spread out among the four floors of the pavilion:

The transformation of the ground floor of the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion into a public square, as in Oscar Niemeyer’s original design for Ibirapuera Park in 1953, proposes a new relationship between the Bienal and its surroundings – the park, the city – opening itself up as the ágora in the tradition of the Greek polis, a space for meetings, confrontations, frictions. This space will have an intense schedule for the six weeks of the event, and will host music and dance presentations, performances and cinema – always based upon proposals that will understand the “square” as a space for social interaction in the present – seeking to create energy to air the building, and consolidate the show as a temporary social space generating creative potential capable of permeating the artists as well as the audience gathered in its events.

Video Lounge
Organized by a group of guest curators, this component connects what will be going on in the square with the realm of reflection and research on the third floor. It is made up of historic videos about the performances of the artists who are presenting on the ground floor, recordings carried out during the 28th Bienal (lectures, performances, workshops), as well as a themed program based on a reading of the work of participating artists. The Video Lounge sets in motion the concept of history by bringing together material from different sources (i.e., existing documents and videos produced daily during the show) thus making up a vast video archive to be presented to the public in three different formats: in the Video Lounge niches, on the first floor, alongside the services of the 28th Bienal (exhibition guides, information, cloakroom); the film and video program to be shown in the auditorium, and the video archive, both on the third floor.