Scene from "O Peixe", 2016, by Jonathas de Andrade, artist chosen to represent Brazil at the Venice Biennale. Photo: Disclosure

Once again, the appointment of the Brazilian representative at the Venice Biennale is the result of an undemocratic choice, as it has been characterized since Edemar Cid Ferreira, in his personalist saga, convinced the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to transfer this task to the Bienal Foundation, in the years nineteen ninety.

In most countries with representation in Venice, or at least in those with a democratic tradition, such as the United States, France and Germany, the choice is made through public processes, which involve open public notices, often generating controversies about the choices - such as the recent decision from Portugal, who passed over Grada Kilomba in the contest for maneuvers considered racist in the selection (see article by Ana Teixeira Pinto).

In Brazil, the Fundação Bienal continues to use the representation of Venice as a prize for the good behavior of a curator during the Bienal de São Paulo. If the presidency doesn't like the curatorial proposals, as happened with Manoel Pires da Costa, who had a disagreement with Lisette Lagnado in 2007, Venice goes to someone with a more docile and well-behaved appearance, an award that was given to Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, the same who was now responsible for the biennial It's dark but I sing. In fact, it is strange that Paulo Miyada, who shared the curatorship of this edition, was excluded from the process. In 2011, Moacir dos Anjos and Agnaldo Farias, who shared the curatorship of the 29th Bienal, also shared Artur Barrio's nomination for Venice.

However, given that the monocratic decision came from José Olympio Pereira, re-elected president of the Fundação Bienal’s board and who supported Bolsonaro’s election in 2018 – and now has been seen with the suspect judge Sergio Moro – there is nothing to be said for wonder. This abysmal discrepancy between the managers of cultural institutions and most artists is somewhat incomprehensible, but it is historical: Ciccillo Matarazzo defended the military dictatorship when he was president of the Bienal, which at that time at least suffered boycotts of artists. Today, everyone is silent.

The choice of Jonathas de Andrade for the 2022 Venice Biennale, however, reveals how the 34th Bienal de São Paulo was hypocritical in assuming the nickname “Biennial of the Indians”. In Venice, after all, it would be the moment to consolidate this bet, which was not really a bet – as Jaider Esbell revealed in a long interview with the digital magazine Elastic, expressing his annoyance: “We are not satisfied. Because first the Bienal said it didn’t want any Indians.”

Jonathan is an internationally recognized artist and his work “O Peixe” was a sensation at the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, in 2016, led by Jochen Volz. But after two pandemic years, when movements like #meetoo and #blacklivesmatter gained power and resonance, based on the achievements of blacks and women, the choice of Visconti only reinforces how distant the Fundação Bienal is from the social context and out of tune with the current time.

Meanwhile, Maria Eichhorn, with her critical work on economic structures, will represent Germany in Venice, the African-American Simone Leigh in the United States, and the French-born Algerian-descendant Zineb Sedira in France. Long live democracy!

Leave a comment

Please write a comment
Please write your name