Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Spanish, lives between São Paulo and New York, USA, holds a PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex (United Kingdom) and a Master's in Art History and Latin American Studies from the University of Aberdeen (United Kingdom). Kingdom) - Photo: Bienal 2018

AThe next Bienal de São Paulo promises to shatter a series of models that have been in force for a long time. The first of the institutions to have its tradition scratched is that of the curator-author. Since at least the 23rd edition of the event, the show has been organized around a personal project, often imposed from outside, of a director idea of ​​a single person, who at most shared responsibilities with a team of assistants. Annoyed by this, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro decided to turn things around a bit. He diluted in his project not only the idea of ​​a guiding concept, adopting as a motto the very open notion of “Affective Affinity”, but above all, radically horizontalizing not only the conception, but the exhibition as a whole, by inviting seven artists to assume , by his side, the curatorship of the event.

In other words, the classic boundary between curators and artists is eliminated. “I think these two terms are equivalent”, makes a point of clarifying Pérez-Barreiro. “The impositions are few and are only bureaucratic, related to issues such as budget – the same for everyone – having to insert your own work in the exhibition and not interfere in the 'island' of the other”, he explains. Ilha is the name given to the centers designed by Alejandro Cesarco, Antonio Ballester Moreno, Claudia Fontes, Mamma Anderson, Sofia Borges, Waltercio Caldas and Wura-Natasha Ogunji. From different generations and origins, the paths taken by each of them are unique and diverse.

While Waltercio Caldas has been dealing with works that already exist, proposing a work closer to a museum curatorship (in a similar way to what he had already developed in the 6th Mercosul Biennial, also curated by Pérez-Barreiro, in 2007), Wura Ogunji and Claudia Fontes – who already has a tradition of networking – turned to the artist community, horizontalizing the system and incorporating new works, commissioned especially for the 33rd Bienal.

“There are seven curatorship classes”, he says. “I looked at them more for the difference, for the formal and process diversity, than for the similarity”, adds the curator. “It's a legacy of modernism to think that there are correct and incorrect versions,” he explains. The need to expand his horizons in a less controlled way and to take risks that would take him out of the comfortable position of repeating what he already knows how to do, led Pérez-Barreiro to avoid doing more of the same.

Of the seven curators-artists invited, I knew only two of them previously (Waltercio Caldas and Alejandro Cesarco). Other rules that the curator established for his choices were the balance between genres and respect for a certain geopolitical balance traditionally followed for the Bienal, to guarantee a greater representation of Brazilian and Latin American artists (with each of these groups corresponding to about a third of the sample). Co-curators will not necessarily adhere to these criteria. Interspersing each of the seven islands of each of the artist-curators, the visitor will find Pérez-Barreiro's own choices. The release of the final names should take place soon, but he adds that his selection is extremely wide, ranging from a never-before-seen film to some historical scores. Among them, works from the series Cesium, by Siron Franco. Created in 1987, the work makes an acid critique of the radioactive accident that occurred in Goiânia shortly before. In total, the Bienal will have around 80 participants, a number that he considers satisfactory for achieving a light exhibition, without the visitor feeling exhausted after the visit.

The idea is to exercise in the public the exercise of the gaze, so that they can make their own choices, understand themselves affectively and not rationally with the work of art. The chosen title, which mixes references to Goethe and Mário Pedrosa – about whom Pérez-Barreiro has just made an exhibition, at the Spanish museum Reina Sofía –, reiterates this path. The notion of attention, of interaction with the works, is also essential in this project. “What has radically changed in recent years is the introduction of social networks, the invasion of technology in people's lives. This leads us to think about how to create the possibility of an authentic space, of thinking about the reality that surrounds us and art is a highly privileged space for this, because it talks about relationships, it talks about ambiguity”, he explains. This development of focus, of exchange between the spectator and the work, gains a great weight in the educational project. As a matter of fact, this one also presents a change of focus in relation to the other editions, says Pérez-Barreiro, insofar as it will privilege material with a longer life, without a strict link with the content of the Bienal, so that it can become a more broad and awakening awareness of one's attention beyond the temporal limits of the event.

On March 20th, the Bienal officially announced the name of 12 new exhibitors that make up the list of Art Biennial 2018

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