Video with the Bell of Ouro Preto in the exhibition Vento, part of the 34th Bienal de SP. Photo: Levi Fanan/ Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Since the beginning of the pandemic and the need for social isolation, the world as a whole has been forced to create communication strategies in the virtual, online universe, using various tools. Meeting platforms, Instagram accounts, websites, Facebook and newsletters have imploded networks, slowing even network channels. Most sectors were not prepared for this turnaround, let alone their investments in equipment or professionals in the area.

In culture, live broadcasts of shows and performances began to be produced, as well as debates, lectures and courses. One of the formats that was massively used were precisely these lives, live meetings broadcast on Instagram or Youtube, with experts or commentators from different areas. On any given night, an Instagram user would log into their account and find dozens of broadcast offers taking place simultaneously, making it difficult to even select what was or wasn't worth watching. For each interesting presentation – however subjective this assessment may be – thousands of other poorly planned ones seemed to pop up, with random content or even technical failures (audio, image or connection). The important thing was not to stand still.

In the field of visual arts, more specifically, museums, cultural institutions, galleries, curators and artists have promoted hundreds of presentations, debates and so-called webinars on the most diverse topics. In addition, they intensified postings on their social networks, with videos, images and texts, in an effort not to completely distance themselves from the public at a time when everyone – at least a good part of the visual arts audience – was closed in their homes. There was also the option of viewing rooms, exhibitions set up especially for the virtual universe, and fairs needed to adapt to the digital environment.

As was to be expected, it didn't take long for criticism to arise precisely about the way in which this migration to the virtual was made, especially the excess of lives of all kinds. In April of last year, artist and researcher Giselle Beiguelman wrote in an article in FSP: “The coronavirus resurrected the internet in the 1990s. Between video calls, lives and virtual visits, we discovered what we already knew – living in the parallel universe is very boring. (…) And we discovered something else – museums, art galleries and cultural institutions are in the stone age of the internet. Run over by the pandemic and without artistic and cultural content created for the web, they joined the only fields of online life they know, social networks, e-commerce and emergency exits pointed to Google Arts & Culture ".

Still, good quality video recordings or interviews also stood out over time and attracted thousands of views and interactions. In interviews conducted by arte!brasileiros throughout the year, several managers, despite agreeing that the virtual will never replace the face-to-face experience, highlighted as a positive point the possibility of having a live dialogue with people from all corners of the world, which did not occur in a lecture in the living room of a museum or gallery. Directors and gallery owners were also satisfied with the speed with which they managed to improve their virtual performance.

Among some of these lives and presentations, our employees here chose initiatives that brought added value and, in the midst of such a dramatic situation, managed to find differentiated solutions. Read on.

The importance of context

Live at the ZUM Festival at the end of last year, Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar addressed the politics of image

By Fabio Cypriano

Alfredo Jaar (below in the image) talked to Thyago Nogueira on the live. Photo: reproduction

Since I saw the performance of alfredo jaar at the San Juan Triennale in 2015 and the following year at the International Seminar on arte!brasileiros, in São Paulo, I always try to follow the sensational speeches of the Chilean artist. In 2020, as the lives replaced most of the face-to-face events, Jaar participated in the ZUM Festival, on the occasion of the launch of the 19th edition, in a remarkable speech. Some of these events continued to be available online.

I highlight three excerpts from his one-and-a-half-hour speech that I consider very significant in the current context of art. The first is when Jaar reveals his creative methodology, which includes daily reading newspapers from different countries, since he was exiled to the United States in the 1970s and lives there until today: “I can only dedicate myself to talk about the world if you can understand it.”

It may seem like an obvious phrase, but few artists are able to transform everyday issues of everyday life, whether individual or collective, into potent artistic works such as those he presents throughout his speech, in what Hal Foster calls the “utopian glow of the fiction”, to paraphrase Ben Lerner.

The second part is the realization that “the art world is the only one that still has a space of freedom”, something very similar to what he defended. Kilomba Grada two years ago, at the Pinacoteca do Estado, when he told why he preferred to leave his academic career to pursue artistic production. In fact, it is not by chance that artists have been vehemently persecuted by extreme right-wing governments, such as the one installed here.
Finally, the third section, directly focused on the topic of his table, is divided into two parts. The first is when he deals with the trivialization of violent scenes, whether on the networks or in the media: “The image of pain is lost because it is decontextualized in a sea of ​​consumption”. And this is completed with: “And the lack of context joins the lack of visual literacy”. That, for me, summarizes one of the crucial dramas of the current moment, that is, the urgent need to make facts or images be seen in a broad way, in all the complexity that they are imbricated and not just on the surface.

Watch “The Image Policy” – Alfredo Jaar – ZUM Festival 2020 by clicking here.

world in dispute

The artist Rosana Paulino and the environmentalist and indigenous leader Ailton Krenak discussed the profound limits of the worldview linked to a supposed civilizing project, which only accepts equals and relegates the “other” to the margins.

By Maria Hirszman

Rosana Paulino, Ailton Krenak and João Souza (below) on live. Photo: reproduction

Ailton krenak e rosana paulino are among the most prominent thinkers in the Brazilian scene, especially in these pandemic times of so many virtual encounters. If their contributions alone are fundamental about the immense challenges faced by indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities, when they jointly address fundamental aspects of contemporary life, such as environmental preservation, social inequality and the permanent exclusion to which they have been subjected for centuries, they acquire even greater density and sharpness when added in a fertile dialogue of ideas.

“On the planet, 80% or 90% are excluded, they are disputing another narrative about the world”, stated Krenak at the meeting promoted between them in June last year by the Ashoka Organization. These data show the perversity of an increasingly excluding path, of radicalization of the neoliberal logic that has been imposing itself on the world and, in particular, on Brazil, where the head of state reacts to the thousands of deaths with a regrettable “and so?!". The inhumanity contained in this reaction serves as a synthesis for the analyzes of both, making evident the findings of both Krenak and Paulino on the deep limits of the worldview linked to a supposed civilizing project, which only accepts equals and relegates the “other " the margin.

For years focusing on the intersection between art and science, working on top of the constructions promoted by scientific racism, Rosana Paulino makes evident – ​​both in her speech and in her artistic work – how this model of ordering cities, nature, knowledge it is destructive and exclusionary. It is necessary to incorporate new knowledge: “the groups that were left on the sidelines have technologies that were not recognized by this ordering of the world”, she denounces, revealing the urgent need to review this supposedly humanist logic. “When someone affirms the principle of urbanity, of world colonization, he destroys my world. It doesn't include me. I only integrate myself, no longer being myself”, reiterates Krenak, showing in a crystalline way the limits of discourses that, in the end, only offer illusory and sterile solutions, such as the palliative ideas of overcoming, integration, enterprise, acculturation and merit, always based on the figure of the individual and that meet the wishes of maintaining the status quo for the few.

Rowing against this conformist posture, Krenak and Paulino preach the real and urgent need to understand the fields of dispute and to persist in the effort to imagine and build new possible worlds, without surrendering to the globalizing trend of finance capital. There is no time to waste or space for accommodation. “I can't believe there's nothing else to do. My ancestors arrived in the hold of a ship”, rebuts Rosana.

Watch “Dimensions of Humanity: Who Are We Talking About? – Series of Lives A World of People who Transform” by clicking here.

historic bridges

Jota Mombasa, Ana Adamović, Nina Beier and Vincent Meessen talk about their work that reinforces the 34th Bienal's focus on historical persistence

By Maria Hirszman

Video with the Bell of Ouro Preto in the exhibition Vento, part of the 34th Bienal de SP. Photo: Levi Fanan/ Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

In its third meeting of the series “The Voices of Artists”, the 34th edition of the São Paulo Biennial deepened the relationships between the works of four of the guests invited to participate in the show with an object impregnated with metaphorical and symbolic meanings: the bell of Ouro Preto. Installed since the 1792th century in the Capela do Padre Faria, in the then city of Vila Rica, this instrument condenses a series of stories. It is imbued with experiences and meanings that establish a direct relationship with the more general proposal of the show, Faz Dark Mas eu Canto, and becomes one of its main statements, as it establishes bridges between two distinct historical moments, of great intensity in the history of the country. The first of these is the night Tiradentes was executed, in 1960. In a gesture of rebellion and resistance, the bell was rung at dawn, despite the royal ban. This challenge is re-signified centuries later when the instrument is taken from Minas Gerais to Brasília with the aim of consecrating the new capital with its sound, inaugurated in 21 and in a moment of reaffirmation of Tiradentes as a national hero, on the same April XNUMX. “It works as a kind of tuning fork that helps us tune an instrument”, explains curator Jacopo Crivelli Visconti in the live's introduction.

Historical persistence, repetitions, reiterations and questioning of powerful moments from the past in reinterpretations of the present are among the lines of greatest strength within the Bienal project and is present in the work of several of the selected artists, among which Jota Mombaça, Ana Adamović, Nina Beier and Vincent Meessen, all present at the online presentation held on February 25th, which will be made available on the institution's Youtube channel. Mombasa served as a kind of thread for the program, commenting on central aspects of his reflection such as the fundamental role of imagination as a way of taking us “beyond the realism within which we are confined”, the desire to break with representation, to extrapolate , erase the images in order to allow more radical experiences with reality. This question, according to her, is central to the work 2021, which she will present in partnership with Musa Michelle Mattiuzzi at the 34th Bienal.

The other artists present in the live, through videos recorded in advance, also focus, with different but complementary intensities and approaches, on issues such as historical erasure, manipulation of images and symbols, revisiting neuralgic points of history that may initially be more restricted. to a particular culture or moment, but which end up reverberating with great intensity and brilliance. It is also interesting to note that most of these works are not limited to the restricted universe of the visual arts, but deal intensively with performance, video and music. Two Choirs, by Serbian Ana Adamović, part of an old photograph, present in an album dedicated to Tito (leader of the former Yugoslavia), in which deaf children can be seen singing. Something paradoxical, which refers to violence or the desire to force vocalization in search of a certain normality, which Adamović problematizes by recreating the scene, this time asking the choir participants to sing through sign language. The musicality and diversity in the gesture of these volunteers is surprising.

Watch the live from the Bienal de São Paulo by clicking here. 

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