The 31rst edition of Sao Paulo Biennal, the biggest art event in South America, has plenty to say. It is actually the second oldest biennal after Venise. This edition theme was “How to (…) things that don’t exist’”. I just arrived from Paris, and we are far away from the usual Art questioning Art. Artists from this edition definitely have something to say and address in original ways political and social issues. I just witnessed about 50 revolutions. So here some artworks I wanted to share, more or less controversial.
Otobong Nkanga – 2014 – Earth Talk
This Nigerian artist, is well known for addressing issues related to earth as habitat. For this event, she studied issues related to the share of earth in Brazil. An installation with 3 round tables adapted for talking were presented, in which experts such as geologist and the artist herself would be present allowing the public to exchange ideas.
El Hadji Sy – 2014 – Marine Arqueology
In this Artwork, we can see corpses amounted in a blue tunnel, and behind a huge octopus made of coffee bags, with black foot prints. It is the arquelogoy of everyone who died between the 17th and the 18th century from the slavery trade, and the food trade while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. They are the dead in the sea, against their will, and with this, the artist brings back their presence.
Giuseppe Campuzano – 2009-2013 – Line of Life / Travesti Museum of Peru
Giuseppe Campuzano reproduced the history of travestis in Peru in a time frame starting from pre-colombine times. Although we don’t know what is true and false, this work tackles social, gender and sexual orientation issues by highlighting travestis personnalities throughtout history from the political, economic or entertaining world. In some of the pictures above, we can see colonizers dressed as women. He created as well a social ritual where people are covered allowing them to experience sexual freedom without any social criteria. Historical pieces (illustration, schemes, and newspaper articles) are diverted in both an humoristic way and a violent denunciation. Let’s remember that in Peru, the Catholic Church still has a major influence in the political and social sphere.
Qiu Zhijie – 2014 – Map
Qiu Zhijie is a chinese artist who relies on maps to create new worlds.The map is actually a tool to guide anyone into an unknown place/ world. Here he maps “the inexistent travel”. To me, it looks like the map of society’s existential crisis, if society was a person and had an existencial crisis. In it, I found my island: “Island of perpetual traveler” and my sea: “Sea of imaginary voyage”. This map draws both places of aspirations and of conflic. Still, I saw a place that made me laugh: “agressive little people“…
Etcétera… and León Ferrari – 2014 – Mistake making of God
Argentinian collective Etcétera and Leon Ferrari signed a controversial artwork. The pictures show the less controversial part though. It describes an installation reproducing an auditorium. On the walls a drawing illustrates the world in an Apocalyptical way, pointing out ecological and social consequences of our economy and way of life. In the center, phones are available where you can listen to conversations with God. Those are based on “Palabras ajenas : conversas de Deus com alguns homens e de alguns homens com alguns homens e com Deus” (1967), from León Ferrari (1920-2012).
(translation: Others words: talks with God and other men and from other men with some men and God”). Those talks were based on real declaration from political and religious personnalities or even the Bible.