Conceived as a polyphony of voices and viewpoints on contemporary artistic production, the 34th Bienal de São Paulo – Faz escuro mas eu canto [Though it’s dark, still I sing] asserts the right to both complexity and opacity, in expressions of art and culture, as well as in the identities of individuals and social groups. To this end, the 34th edition has adopted a new format, aimed at creating a multiplicity of distinct situations in which the encounter between artworks and the public can take place.The curatorial team, which consists of Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, Paulo Miyada, Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez, hope to highlight how the interpretations and meanings attributed to artworks are elastic and influenced by a number of factors, including possible dialogues with other artworks shown around them.
In addition to being extended in time, with solo shows and performative events being held in the Bienal Pavilion starting February 8, the 34th Bienal will also expand in space, by working with more than 25 institutions, mainly across the city of São Paulo, but also internationally. The Fundação Bienal de São Paulo’s broad network of institutional partnerships – cultivated for years and motivated by dialogue and collaborations – is explored in more depth in this edition, and will involve, a network of artistic and curatorial relationships, as well as institutional relationships.
In most cases, the partnerships consist of solo shows held at institutions across São Paulo, but also internationally. These shows offer the public an opportunity to construct deeper readings of artists who will also participate in the large group show to be held in the Bienal Pavilion starting in September – where the artworks will come together in a dialogue with works of other artists and debates. A quarter of the participating artists in the group show will be featured in this network of exhibitions, the outcome of months of dialogue between managers and curators. There are also cases in which the collaborations assume other formats, such as a video program or an international seminar.
“Located in the cultural complex of Ibirapuera Park and with its origins interlaced with that of other institutions within the same complex, including MAM (Museum of Modern Art) and MAC (Museum of Contemporary Art), since its inception the Fundação Bienal has been committed to the establishment of connections. The 34th Bienal is therefore taking place as the outcome of joint effort and leverage between the curatorial project and the institution’s activity. Due to the recognition that today, more than ever, it is necessary to underscore the importance of dialogue and relations between different individuals and groups,” states Fundação’s President, José Olympio da Veiga Pereira.
The 34th Bienal is structured on the basis of the multiple relationships that arise among artistic and institutional questions in an event of this size. “While all of the artists shown in the partner institutions will also be present at the Bienal Pavilion starting in September, the experience the visitors will have upon encountering the works will be very different in each case. It is in this multiplicity of possible relationships in constant transformation that this edition of the Bienal finds one of its central bearings,” says Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, chief curator of this edition.
Adjunct curator Paulo Miyada adds: “São Paulo is a complex metropolis in which many publics live together. By mobilizing this network of partnerships, the Bienal gains an opportunity to approach other urban contexts and publics that each institution cultivates on a daily basis. The visitors of a wide range of spaces will be spurred to visit the Bienal to re-encounter the work of an artist in an expanded dialogue, or, inversely, the visitors of the Bienal could be inspired to visit a new cultural space if they wish to delve longer into an artist’s production.”
In addition to the shows taking place in São Paulo, the 34th Bienal also includes international partnerships. Two of these take place prior to the large group exhibition in September: Deana Lawson’s solo show at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (27 March – 24 May 2020), as well as Neo Muyanga’s performance ‘A Maze in Grace’ at the 11th Liverpool Biennial, UK ( 9 – 11 July 2020), while others extend until 2021, the solo exhibitions of Clara Ianni at the CCA Lagos Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, Nigeria and Ximena Garrido-Lecca at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, US.
Casa do Povo
Curatorship: Benjamin Seroussi and Marília Loureiro
Solo show featuring the Israeli choreographer, theorist and artist Noa Eshkol (1924, Kibbutz Degania Bet, Palestine – 2007, Holon, Israel). Known for the creation of the Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation, since 1973, her practice has included the creation of tapestries made from scraps of fabric sewn together by the dancers of her company. The exhibition will feature the tapestries and part of Eshkol’s archive, and will also include a dance workshop to put her legacy into mutual contact with contemporary practices.
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
Curatorship: Alberto Salvadori and Gianfranco Maraniello
Date: August 25 – November 21, 2020
A solo show of works by Italian painter Giorgio Morandi (1890–1964) punctuated by works of contemporary artists inspired by his oeuvre. Morandi is one of the best-known 20th-century painters, mainly due to the depth and intensity he achieved by repeatedly painting a very restricted set of subjects. Often dedicated to the painting of still lifes – especially scenes of the same set of glass bottles – he took an apparently subtle and prosaic theme as a basis for a monumental investigation into painting, time and the relationships produced by the gaze.
Centro Cultural São Paulo
Curatorship: Hélio Menezes
Data: August 29 – October 31, 2020
Solo show by queer artist Jota Mombaça, who transits, with her work, between performance, activism and writing. Mombaça (1991, Natal, RN, Brazil) participated in an artistic residency at Capacete 2017 as part of the Documenta 14 (Athens/Kassel). She presented performances in institutions such as Goethe Institut, São Paulo, Brazil (2014); Pinacoteca do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, Brazil (2013); and Casa Selvática, Curitiba, Brazil (2013). She lives in Natal (RN, Brazil).
Centro de Formação Cultural Cidade Tiradentes
Date: September – December, 2020
The exhibition is the result of the work of immersion and collaboration by artist Marinella Senatore (1977, Cava de' Tirreni, Italy) with collectives and agents from Cidade Tiradentes interested in participating in workshops for the creation of a performative or narrative work. Trained in music, visual arts and cinema, Senatore is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice is marked by a pronounced collective and participative dimension. She develops her work in various artistic languages and supports, such as collage, performance, sculpture, photography and video, in which her personal autobiographical experience is blended with shared collective narratives. With an extensive career, the artist has shown in institutions in the United States, Israel, South Africa, China, Ecuador, and various European countries.
IAC – Instituto de Arte Contemporânea
Antonio Dias – Arquivos de Trabalho [Archives of Work]
Date: August – November, 2020
Exhibition of material from the archive of Antonio Dias (1944, Campina Grande, PB, Brazil– 2018, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil) held at the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea. Living in Rio de Janeiro from 1957 onward, the artist’s vast production played a fundamental role for the Brazilian new figuration movement in the 1960s. From the end of that decade onward, he had an intense international experience and dialogue with arte povera, conceptual art and the transavantgarde. His notebooks, notes and designs offer a new entrance to his always restless thoughts. Antonio Dias presented his works in more than 100 solo and group shows at many important venues worldwide. He participated in various biennials, including the 16th, 22nd, 24th, 29th and 33rd editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, the 1st and 5th editions of the Bienal do Mercosul (1997, 2005) and the 4th and 8th editions of the Paris Biennale (1965 and 1973).
Instituto Bardi / Casa de Vidro
Date: September, 2020
Performance by American choreographer Trajal Harrell (1973, Douglas, GA, USA), whose works problematize the history, construction and interpretation of contemporary dance, bringing together references from the experimental field of the history of dance with performativities identified with other bodies and spaces, such as voguing, hoochi-koochie and butô. His work has been presented at festivals in Europe, Canada and Brazil, and at venues that include The Kitchen (New York, USA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, USA) and REDCAT (Los Angeles, USA). He has staged performances in the context of the visual arts in institutions such as MoMA, MoMA PS1, The New Museum and The Bronx Museum (New York, USA), the Fondation Cartier pour L’art Contemporain (Paris, France), the Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France) and the Fundação Serralves (Porto, Portugal).
Instituto Moreira Salles
Carolina Maria de Jesus
Curatorship: Hélio Menezes and Raquel Barreto
Date: as of August, 2020
Instituto Moreira Salles presents an exhibition dedicated to Carolina Maria de Jesus (1914, Sacramento, MG – 1977, São Paulo, SP). Curated by Hélio Menezes and Raquel Barreto, the show approaches many aspects of the trajectory and work of the writer, acknowledged since the publication of Quarto de despejo (1960) as one of the most relevant expressions of Brazilian culture in the 20th century. The exhibition will problematize stereotypical perceptions of the writer, as a symbol of the black community in the country and a fundamental reference to reflect on during our present time.
Instituto Tomie Ohtake
Curatorship: Robert Storr
Date: August – October, 2020
The first solo show in a Brazilian institution by one of the greatest living North American figurative painters. Throughout a more than 70-year career, Alex Katz (New York, USA, 1927) constructed a singular work that defies general understandings concerning the functions and themes of contemporary art. He has held more than 200 international exhibitions in institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, USA), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (USA) and the National Portrait Gallery (London, United Kingdom). His works figure in more than 100 public collections worldwide, including that of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA), MoMA (New York, USA), Tate Gallery (London, United Kingdom) and Albertina Museum (Vienna, Austria). He lives between New York and Lincolnville (Maine), in the USA.
Japan House São Paulo
Curatorship: Natasha Barzaghi Geenen
Date: August – December, 2020
Solo show by Yuko Mohri (1980, Kanagawa, Japan). The artist produces installations composed of mechanical elements made out of household utensils and other everyday objects. She often resorts to the Japanese philosophy of You-no-bi, re-signifying these objects with a refined gaze, observing beauty in the ordinary. Her solo shows have most notably included those presented at the Camden Arts Centre (London, England, 2018) and at the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan 2016). Her work has been featured in various group shows, including the 5th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art (Russia, 2019); the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Wifredo Lam (Havana, Cuba, 2018); the 14th Bienal de Lyon (France, 2017); the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2016 (India, 2016); and the Yokohama Triennale 2014 (Kanagawa, Japan, 2014). She lives in Tokyo.
Museu Afro Brasil
Date: September – December, 2020
Solo show by Frida Orupabo (1986, Sarpsborg, Norway). The artist combines photographs and images found in her personal archive to create digital collages that explore themes of race, gender, identity and sexuality. The artist’s work has been shown in various institutions, including Portikus, Frankfurt Am Main (Germany, 2019); Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden, 2019); Kunstnernes Hus (Oslo, Norway, 2019) and Serpentine Gallery (London, England, 2017). Orupabo participated in the 58th Venice Biennale (2019). She lives in Oslo (Norway).
Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia (MuBE)
Curatorship: Cauê Alves
Date: September – October, 2020
A solo show by an artist still little known by the general public, despite the importance of his work, mainly related to ecological issues and in dialogue with popular culture and the people of the backcountry. Juraci Dórea (1944, Feira de Santana, BA, Brazil) is a visual artist and architect. A pioneer in the integration of art with the landscape in Brazilian art, his work is linked with Bahia; more specifically, it dialogues with the civilization of leather, whose tradition still persists in the region between Monte Santo, Canudos and Feira de Santana, where he resides and works. He has participated in various divisions in Brazil and abroad. In 1996 he conceived the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Feira de Santana.
Museu da Cidade de São Paulo: Capela do Morumbi
Curatorship: Gabriela Rios
Date: July 25 – November 15, 2020
Adrián Balseca (1989, Quito, Ecuador) will produce an installation at the Capela do Morumbi, a unit of the Museu da Cidade de São Paulo, in dialogue with its history. With essay-like elements, his research deals with the extractivist dynamics and its impacts on the natural environment. He participated in the 21st Bienal de Arte Contemporânea Sesc_Videobrasil (São Paulo, Brazil, 2019) and in osloBIENNALEN First Edition (Norway, 2019 – 2024). He is a founding member of the group La Selecta-Cooperativa Cultural and takes part in the communitarian art collective Tranvía Cero, both headquartered in Quito.
Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC USP)
Curatorship: Ana Magalhães and Helouise Costa
Date: August 29, 2020 – August 2, 2021
A retrospective exhibition by Regina Silveira (1939, Porto Alegre, RS). An artist with an MA and PhD in art from the School of Communication and Arts of USP, where she also served as a professor, Silveira is a leading figure of conceptual art and experimentation with artistic languages and media, whose career intersects with the history of MAC USP. This exhibition is concentrated on Silveira’s works that form part of the museum’s collection, which is receiving an important addition this year through a new donation. Since the 1960s, she has held solo exhibitions and participated in selected group shows in Brazil and abroad. She participated in the 16th, 17th and 24th editions of the Bienal de São Paulo (1981, 1983, 1998) and in countless other large presentations, such as: the Bienal de Curitiba (Brazil, 2013 and 2015); the Bienal do Mercosul (Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2001 and 2011); the Bienal de La Habana (Cuba, 1986, 1998 and 2015); the 6th Taipei Biennial (Taiwan, 2006); the 2nd Setouchi Triennale (Japan, 2016) and the 1st BienalSur (Argentina, 2017). She lives in São Paulo (SP, Brazil).
Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP)
Trajal Harrell in Histórias da dança [Histories of Dance]
Curatorship: Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director, MASP; Julia Bryan-Wilson, adjunct curator of modern and contemporary art, MASP; Olivia Ardui, assistant curator, MASP
Date: June 26 – November 5, 2020
A performance by American choreographer Trajal Harrell (1973, Douglas, GA, USA) is part of the axis Histórias da dança, which is guiding the program of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in 2020. Having won awards internationally, Harrell has presented his work in festivals in Europe, Canada and Brazil, and at venues such as The Kitchen (New York, USA), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, USA) and REDCAT (Los Angeles, USA). He has staged performances in the context of the visual arts in institutions such as MoMA, MoMA PS1, The New Museum and The Bronx Museum (New York, USA), the Fondation Cartier pour L’art Contemporain (Paris, France), Centre Pompidou-Metz (Metz, France) and Fundação Serralves (Porto, Portugal).
Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM São Paulo)
Date: October – December, 2020
A large show about the work and catalyzing role of artist Macuxi Jaider Esbell (1979, Normandia, RR, Brazil). Esbell lived until the age of 18 in the area which is now the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land, before moving to the state capital, Boa Vista. His first major recognition came in 2010, when he was awarded the grant/scholarship Funarte/MINC for the encouragement of new writers, which he used to write the book, Terreiro de Makunaima – mitos, lendas e estórias em vivência. In 2011, he held his first, self-curated, exhibition in Normandia (RR, Brazil), and, in 2013, he organized the first Encontro de Todos os Povos. These three accomplishments underscore his trajectory and role in the creation of the Sistema AIC – Arte Indígena Contemporânea [Indigenous Contemporary Art]. Within the concept of collectivity, Esbell works in multiple ways, combining the role of artist, curator, writer, educator, promoter and cultural catalyzer. His world views are now considered among the most relevant of Brazilian “Indigenous thought”. Museu Lasar Segall
Lasar Segall: o eterno caminhante [Lasar Segall: The Eternal Walker]
Curatorship: Giancarlo Hannud
Date: permanent exhibition
A long-term exhibition of the museum’s collection. Before moving to Brazil, Lasar Segall (1889, Vilnius, Lithuania – 1957, São Paulo, SP, Brazil) lived in Germany between 1906 and 1923, where, by adhering to the aesthetics of the vanguard, he defied traditional artistic languages. After moving to Brazil, Segall joined the nascent modernist movement as one of its chief figures and became established as one of the great names of Brazilian modern art. During his artistic career, he wrote and published texts, gave conferences and, above all, painted, engraved and sculpted incessantly.
Oficina Cultural Oswald de Andrade
Date: October, 2019 – July, 2020
In the context of the promotion of situations that allow for an enriching plurality of positionings and viewpoints, the Oficina Cultural Oswald de Andrade is hosting talks and meetings with artists, curators and specialists who are participating in the 34th Bienal.
Paço das Artes
Seminário Internacional de Arte Contemporânea 2020 [International Seminar of Contemporary Art 2020]
Organization: Priscila Arantes and Vinicius Spricigo
Date: 18 and 19 September, 2020
Since its first edition, in 2005, the Seminário Internacional of the Paço das Artes has constituted a space of dialogue and exchange between national and international institutions, artists and researchers to reflect on themes related to contemporary art and culture. This year, the event will take place in the auditorium of the Bienal Pavilion and will concern the current state and possible potentials of the debate on postcoloniality, discussing its limits and intersections with contemporary artistic production.
Pinacoteca de São Paulo / Estação
Curatorship: Berta Sichel
Date: May 9 – October 12, 2020
The first solo show by one of the most important names in performance art in the 1960s. Joan Jonas (1936, New York, USA) is recognized for her multimedia works that typically involve video, performance, installation, sound, text and drawing. A pioneer of video art and performance art, her projects and experiments profoundly influenced the development of these artistic languages. Having won awards internationally and taken part in hundreds of solo and group shows, Jonas participated in Documenta V, VI, VII, VIII, XI and XIII (Kassel, Germany) and represented the United States at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015). She lives in New York (USA).
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
Curatorship: Fernanda Brenner
Date: August 29 – October 24, 2020
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (1972, San Juan, Puerto Rico) will occupy the main space of Pivô with a selection of artworks from different phases of her career, which investigates the possibilities and formats of the moving image. Her research takes place on the border between fiction and the documentary. Supported by postcolonial and feminist studies as well as experimental ethnography, it constructs a visual universe charged with local mythologies, historical researches and is, above all, informed by the direct contact and exchanges that she establishes with her interlocutors, which include both actors and nonactors.
Opening: September 1, at 7 p.m. Visitation: September 2 – December 30, 2020
A proposal by Rio de Janeiro performer and theorist about the role of performance in contemporary art. Eleonora Fabião (1968, Rio de Janeiro, RJ) has presented works in the streets since 2008. She is interested in poetics and ethics of the strange, of the encounter and of the precarious. She is a professor in the postgraduate Scenic Arts course and in the Theatrical Direction course at the School of Communication of UFRJ (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). She holds a PhD in Performance Studies (New York University), an MA in Performance Studies (New York University) and an MA in the Social History of Culture (PUC-RJ).
Curatorship: José Roca
Opening: August 29, 11 a.m. Visitation: August 29 – November 29, 2020
Dialogue between Abel Rodríguez and other contemporary artists concerning the indigenous and ecological issues dealt with in his work. Born in the Colombian Amazon region, Abel Rodríguez (c. 1944, Cahuinarí region, Colombia) was raised to become an expert on plants. When serving as a local guide for an expedition by an NGO that studies tropical forests, he met a biologist who, years later, invited him to work as a specialist on the local flora and gave him the tools for making botanical drawings. His illustrations are created on the basis of his memories coupled with his knowledge acquired from oral traditions. In 2008, his drawings were shown at the Museo Botero, in Bogotá, opening a space for his work to be shown in countless exhibitions on the American continent and in Europe, including at Documenta XIV (Kassel, Germany).
Curatorship: Moacir dos Anjos
Opening: September 2, at 8 p.m. Visitation: September 3, 2020 – January 24, 2021
A large and much awaited anthological exhibition of one of the most important Chilean contemporary artists. An artist, architect and filmmaker, Alfredo Jaar (1956, Santiago, Chile) is best known for his installations, which generally involve photographs and deal with sociopolitical themes. His work has been shown extensively around the world. He participated in the 42nd, 52nd, 53rd and 55th editions of the Venice Biennale (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013); the 19th, 20th and 29th editions of the Bienal de São Paulo Paulo; and Documenta VIII and XI (Kassel, Germany). He has carried out more than 60 public interventions throughout the world and ives in New York (USA).
Programas de vídeo: Acervo Histórico Videobrasil em diálogo [Video Programs: The Videobrasil Historical Collection in Dialogue]
Date: September 5 – December 6, 2020
A set of video programs presented periodically in the auditorium of the Bienal Pavilion. The programs explore relationships between works by artists featured in the 34th Bienal de São Paulo in the collection of the Associação Cultural Videobrasil.
Program of the network of partner institutions – International
Kunsthalle Basel – Basel, Switzerland
Deana Lawson (solo show)
27 March – 24 May 2020
11th Liverpool Biennial – Liverpool, UK
Neo Muyanga: A Maze in Grace (performance)
9 – 11 July 2020
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts – San Francisco, US
Ximena Garrido-Lecca (solo show)
10 February - 27 March 2021
CCA Lagos Centre for Contemporary Art – Lagos, Nigeria
Clara Ianni (solo show)
date to be confirmed
In the Bienal Pavilion
In the Bienal Pavilion, as previously announced, besides a group show to take place from September through December, solo shows and performative events are being presented starting in February. Admission is free to all activities.
February 8 – March 15, 2020
Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
February 8, 2020, 11 a.m.
October 3 – December 13, 2020*
*Due to covid-19 pandemic, the calendar of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo was adjusted to protect the safety of visitors, artists and collaborators.
Faz Escuro Mas Eu Canto
Considered more as a statement than a theme, the title of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, Faz escuro mas eu canto, is a line from a poem by Thiago de Mello, published in the book by the same name in 1965. In his work, the Amazonian poet speaks clearly about the problems and hopes of millions of men and women around the world: “Hope is universal, the social inequalities are universal as well […]. We are at a moment at which the apocalypse is gaining on utopia. For some time now I have made the choice: between apocalypse and utopia, I’m staying with utopia,” the writer stated. Jacopo Crivelli Visconti adds: “by its title, the 34th Bienal recognizes the state of anguish of the contemporary world while underscoring the possibility of the existence of art as a gesture of resilience, hope and communication.”
34th Bienal de São Paulo – Faz escuro mas eu canto [Though it’s dark, still I sing]
Chief curator: Jacopo Crivelli Visconti
Adjunct curator: Paulo Miyada
Guest curators: Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez
Guest editor: Elvira Dyangani Ose in collaboration with The Showroom, London