AES+F, Inverse Mundus, 2015
AES+F, Inverse Mundus, 2015

Ohe contemporary sociopolitical conflicts emerge in this Curitiba Biennial, inaugurated on September 21st. The works range from contemporary Russian art and its shards in the system to those that denounce diasporas forced by conflicts, racism, persecution. under the theme Open Borders, the edition also brings poetic intersections with purely artistic suggestions and interests, but the proposals engaged in the maxim: “to create is to resist” draw attention. The general theme is inspired by the commemorations of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which reconfigured part of the world, in particular Eastern Europe.

The volume of works reaches 400, executed by around 100 artists, and testifies to the mutation of contemporary art that transforms the space into a place of vestiges, signs to be deciphered. This time the Curitiba Biennial, whose central axis is the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, expands its borders and reaches other cities and countries.

The porosity of art is sensitive to changes in society and to contemporary issues of all kinds. Tereza de Arruda, a Brazilian who lives in Germany, and Spanish Adolfo Montejo Navas sign the general curatorship and understand the border as element far beyond geographic space. One They are joined by a group of foreign curators: Massimo Scaringella (Italy/Argentina), Gabriela Urtiaga (Argentina), Ernestine White (South Africa), Esebjia Bannan (Russia) and Julie Dumont (Belgium).

Sethembile Msezane, performance Hosue of Reflection
Sethembile Msezane, performance “Hosue of Reflection”

More than twenty years after apartheid, the South African Sethembile Msezane became a militant through her performances that denounced the unfeasibility of black women in her country. Her performances mix ritualism, activism and tend to occupy public spaces with a large audience. Sitting on the floor of her tent covered by transparent red cloths, she received individually visitors to the Bienal who wanted to think about the moment we are living in. Certainly Sethembile was horrified by what she heard about Brazil. By becoming an artist, she became a soldier against racism, oppression and the lack of opportunity for black people. “Having lived in Cape Town for about five years, I felt a profound sense of displacement and invisibility.” Her conversations with the public were accompanied by a musician who performed songs typical of her region.

Arthur Omar, "The Origin of the Face" Series
Arthur Omar, “The Origin of the Face” Series

Imagine a restless eye that wants to denounce the ills of the world through broken scenes of cyberspace. This is how the retina of Hito Steyerl, German filmmaker, cultural critic and cyberartist, one of the outstanding names of this Bienal, works. The striking aspect of Factory of the Sun is the focus on the privileged in the system, which she calls “people of the world” and human beings forced into the diaspora. The video is actually a game seasoned with denunciations and humor in which the main character, Yulia, a cyborg type, narrates in which she discusses, among other topics, the forced exile of her Jewish family to Russia. One of the strengths of the speech is the way it simulates the infiltration and influence of money in the art world. Hito has become known for taking a political stand, unafraid to challenge the power of the market. The artist has exhibited in several countries and represented Germany at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

Hito Steyerl, “Factory of the Sun”

Russia, India, China and South Africa are gathered in the Brics segment, curated by Ernestine White-Mifetu, Esenija Bannan, Lu Zhengyuan and Tereza de Arruda. Humor and criticism of the system move the Russian collective AES + F that causes the intersection of photography, video and digital technology. With multimedia work Inverse Mundus, the group dramatizes criticisms between these media, some nonsense, delving into the history of art and the limiting social issues of today's world. AES+F became known after representing the Russian pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, with the provocative Last Riot.

Biennials are heterogeneous territories with fragmented ways of producing. In these large exhibitions there are no limiting dimensions to present a work, nor scales. Southern Cross (1969/1970), the tiny sculpture by Cildo Meireles, a small wooden block that can be appreciated on the tip of an index finger, grows under a spotlight as it takes over the center of the room. The artist demarcates a territory, in a political sense, and makes connections with the points of the constellation of the same name. This work, since its creation, has already provoked numerous interpretations and remains open. in the segment Between worlds, among others in the show, several Brazilians are present, among them Arthur Omar, with seven works from the series The Origin of the Face and a snippet of the video Goya's Horses, made with images of a hockey game in which the ball is an animal carcass. Working limits, Regina Vater presents Edges (2019) a long and delicate sculpture that seems to shape the territorial designs born by borders, instruments of territorial regulation.

View of part of the Curitiba Biennial dedicated to Brazilian artists.
In the center, in evidence, work by Regina Vater, “Bordas”, 2019

On earth nothing is permanent. Territorial contours dissolve, they move according to conflicts, political arrangements, geographical accidents. The idea of ​​constant movement led the 14th Curitiba Biennial to take a ride on all municipal buses, where, until March 1, it projects a series of videos during trips, presenting a new audience, different from those who normally transit through fairs and biennials.

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