For an optimal view of our website, please rotate your tablet horizontally.
9 October 2019 - 2 February 2020
Sesc 24 de Maio, São Paulo, Brazil
Artistic director: Solange Farkas
Curatorial team: Gabriel Bogossian, Luisa Duarte, Miguel López
The presence of nationalism as a means to understanding the disputes that mark our time. That is the background of the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil - Imagined Communities, which will run from October 9, 2019 through February 2, 2020, at Sesc 24 de Maio, in Sao Paulo, comprising over 60 works of art and two collections, 55 artists from 28 countries, among video, painting, photography and installation.
The artistic director Solange Farkas, the trio of curators Gabriel Bogossian, Luisa Duarte and Miguel Lopez and the members of the selection jury Alejandra Hernandez Munoz, Juliana Gontijo and Raphael Fonseca analyzed together 2,280 submissions from 105 nationalities to select works from Brazil, Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. For the first time, the guiding theme was announced in the actual call.
The 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil | Imagined Communities borrows the title from Benedict Anderson's classic study to reflect on forms of social and community organization existing beyond, on the fringes or in the breaches of nation states: religious or mystical communities, refugee groups uprooted from their original land, clandestine, fictional and utopian communities or those constituted in the underground worlds of bodily and sexual experiences.
That is the horizon featured in the works by artists from indigenous groups or original peoples from Brazil, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru and New Zealand that deal with the issues present in the making and representation of those cultures in art and the world (works by Alberto Guarani, Jim Denomie, Alto Amazonas Audiovisual, Claudia Martínez Garay and others), in works that address the queer/LGBT universe (Aykan Safoglu, Megan-Leigh Heilig, Nilbar Güres, #Vote LGBT, Paulo Mendel & Vitor Grunvald), racial issues (Emo de Medeiros, Nelson Makengo, Thierry Oussou, Jonathas de Andrade etc.), border conflicts. To these and so many works are added projects by five guest artists - Andrea Tonacci, Hrair Sarkissian, Teresa Margolles, Rosana Paulino and Thierry Oussou.
The Biennial is divided into three platforms: exhibition, public programs and publications.
Works by 50 selected and five guest artists are distributed on the ground, third, fifth and sixth floors. Throughout the display of 60 works and two collections, visitors will come across an unprecedented video installation by Rosana Paulino, flags made by Monica Nador and the collective JAMAC, a collection of African jewelry acquired by MAE-USP in the 1970s and never shown in public, a memorial totem developed by the New Zealand artist Brett Graham, an Islamic mosaic installation made of sand that will be swept away at the opening of the exhibition by the Saudi artist Dana Awartani, visitors will be able to take part of and activate the work RESISTA by the collective Chameckilerner, actions with the audience planned by the collective #VOTELGBT, works by original and indigenous peoples, such as that by Alberto Guarani, as well as videos, photographs, paintings and installations in different formats capable of bringing visitors into intimate and immersive contact with the theme of the Biennial.
A program of performances, debates, film screenings and public actions runs through the three months of the exhibition (check days and times at bienalsescvideobrasil.org.br). One of the highlights of this schedule is the seminar "Imagined Communities," which gathers over six days (October 15, 16 and 17; November 12, 13 and 14) national and international guests to debate themes directly related to the exhibition - Lucy Lippard, Vladimir Safatle, Suely Rolnik, Guilherme Wisnik, Maria Rita Khel, Amara Moira, Ampam Karakras, Coletivo Guarani, among others.
Two bilingual printed publications will be launched during the Biennial. The catalog, Livro de Artista, follows the format of an artist's book, with essays by three guest authors - Glagys Tzul Tzul, Bonaventure Ndikung and Erica Moiah. An offshoot of the international seminar "Imagined Communities," Livro de Leituras [Book of Readings] comprises a selection of excerpts from the round table debates. Also noteworthy is the production of an audio guide and content projects developed especially for the website and digital environment.
Spanning over 35 years of existence, the hitherto called Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil takes on the name of Biennial, joining the international Biennial calendar and strengthening its position in the global visual arts scene. For Videobrasil director Solange Farkas, rather than a mark of periodicity, "the term Biennial reflects the perception that our investigative practice brings us closer to the role played by international biennials such as those of Sharjah, Cuenca, Havana and Dakar, institutions that, like Videobrasil, strive to offer a more diverse panorama of global production and establish a parallel circuit to that revolving around Europe and the United States."
With its three decades of history largely linked to Sesc Pompeia, the Biennial occupies this year Sesc 24 de Maio. Benefitting from the polyphony of voices, accents and senses present in the downtown region and Paulo Mendes da Rocha's architectural design for the old Mesbla building, the Biennial relies on the harmony created between the diversity and pluralism of the venue and the proposals of its curators.
For the regional director of Sesc Sao Paulo, Danilo Santos de Miranda, "Sesc is charged with reflecting and mediating multiple perspectives through cultural action devoted to casting off shackles inherited from the colonial past and imposed by a peripheral geopolitical condition. The curatorial selection of the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil brings together artistic experiences engaged in conceiving the commons and its respective ties from non-hegemonic elements and commitments." Miranda adds that, "For the first time the Biennial occupies Sesc 24 de Maio, which not only boasts emblematic architecture but is situated in the downtown area of Sao Paulo and hence represents the plurality of the surrounding community, including a large number of refugees."
Granted by an international jury composed of five women (Alexia Tala, Gabi Ngcobo, Marta Mestre, Reem Fada and Rosângela Rennó), seven awards were offered to the participating artists. Three eight-week residency awards were offered by partners of the Videobrasil network: Instituto Sacatar (Itaparica Island, Bahia coast); MMCA Residency Changdong (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul) and Sharjah Art Foundation Residency Program (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.) In this edition, the Sesc Contemporary Art Award goes to two works by Brazilian artists, which will be included in the Sesc Collection of Brazilian Art. Offered by Electrica Cinema & Video, the State of the Art Award was granted to the best participating artist or group. Lastly, the Ostrovsky Family Fund (O.F.F.) offered an award for the most innovative moving image artwork. The winners were announced at the awards ceremony on October 12 and received a trophy designed by the artist Alexandre da Cunha.
Awardees and Jury Statement
Videobrasil is an art platform and cultural association that researches and disseminates art produced in regions of the world's geopolitical South - Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Created and directed by Solange Farkas, it is part of a network of initiatives that includes exhibitions, displays, publications, documentaries, meetings and artistic residencies. With over a thousand video works and four thousand items, its collection has set a benchmark in the continent for video conservation, video installations and documentation of performances.
Sesc - Serviço Social do Comercio [Social Service of Commerce] is a non-profit private institution created in 1946 by businessmen in the retail and services sectors, present all over Brazil. In the state of Sao Paulo, Sesc has 40 units, mostly facilities that offer activities related to culture, education, sports, leisure and health. Its initiatives are guided by educational purposes and the pursuit of social welfare based on a broad understanding of culture.
From press information. © Photos: Courtesy of Videobrasil
Cover photos: Exhibition view; Rosana Paulino; Jim Denomie