With an ambitious and unprecedented format, the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo – Affective Affinities hopes to encourage an individual appreciation of art by avoiding an overarching theme that could prompt pre-established understandings. The title for the 33rd edition of the Bienal de São Paulo was selected by its curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, director and chief curator of the Cisneros Collection, to resonate with ideas presented in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel Elective Affinities (1809), as well as Mário Pedrosa’s important thesis On the Affective Nature of Form in the Work of Art (1949). However, the title is not intended to provide the exhibition with a thematic direction. Rather, it reflects the show’s organisation, which draws on artistic and cultural links, as well as affinities between participating artists. As in Pedrosa’s text, it proposes an investigation into the ways that art creates an environment of relationships and communication, which begins with the artist and moves through the object to the viewer. Presence, attention and the way that the environment influences our experience, are the premises that guide Pérez-Barreiro’s curatorial proposal, which functions as a response to a world of ready-made truths, in which the fragmentation of information and inability to focus attention can lead to alienation and passivity.