About the 35th
The idea of forming a group with a horizontal structure without the figure of a chief curator was suggested by the team of curators and is central to their project for the 35th Bienal. Diane Lima is an independent curator, writer and researcher; Grada Kilomba, an interdisciplinary artist, writer and academic; Hélio Menezes is a curator, anthropologist and researcher; and Manuel Borja-Villel is a researcher and art historian.
choreographies of the impossible
Diane Lima, Grada Kilomba, Hélio Menezes and Manuel Borja-Villel
How can bodies in movement be able to choreograph the possible, within the impossible? The proposal for the 35th Bienal de São Paulo emerges as a mutual project around multiple possibilities to choreograph the impossible. As the title already suggests, it is an invitation to radical imaginations about the unknown, or even about what figures as im/possible.
We employ the term choreography to highlight the practice of drawing sequences of movements across time and space, generating multiple and new fractions, forms, images and possibilities, despite all the infeasibility and denial. We are interested in the rhythms, tools, strategies, and technologies, as well as in all symbolic, economic and juridical procedures that extra-disciplinary knowledges are able to promote, producing thus the flight, the refusal and their poetic exercises.
Here we present the impossible indefinitely, for we comprehend that its generative violence also goes beyond what we can imagine. They are often immeasurable, indescribable and unimaginable. We are concerned, therefore, about describing, without reenacting.
And so the choreography rehearsal begins.
As a curatorial proposal, choreographies of the impossible enunciates a space of experimentation – open to the dances of the unimaginable – that embodies movements capable of transforming what is apparently non-existent into existent. This idea of a choreography is based on the enigmatic nature of the artistic fact and, thus, on everything that is neither worn out nor evident, but rather on what can be named as secret, mystery or as the infinite itself. These are resilient elements, and therefore elements of rupture, of an attempt at freedom, consequently.
The curatorial team (in alphabetical order) is composed of Diane Lima, Grada Kilomba, Hélio Menezes and Manuel Borja-Villel. Our team is a collective, acting horizontally, in a counter-dance. For us, the choreographies begin with our practice, whose principle is the attempt to dismantle hierarchies, ethical and normative procedures that enact the institutional devices’ vertical power, value and violence structures – which, as we all know, the world no longer supports.
How to choreograph the choreographies of the impossible?
Where are these choreographies? How to look at them? And how do they collapse the aesthetical categories of modern thought, creating a fractal image into which the political, the historical, the organic, the physical and the spiritual unite? When and how do work, frequency, heat, sound capacity and matter become parts of this choreography? And how to create new movements, changing the speed and the dimensions of time: how to defer, accelerate or even stop it?
This first moment begins like a rehearsal, a rehearsal of movements dedicated to writing and erasing words, terms and concepts, which produce a constellation of thoughts and actions in order to find them. This rehearsal has to do with the gestures of deepening, acknowledging, collapsing, and bringing together the theoretical frameworks, symbolic references, and aesthetical repertoires that conform the very collectivity we are. And, more importantly, these gestures echo the resonances of the collectivity that goes beyond us and expands with the dialogues we have been having with other thinkers, artists, researchers, activists, curators, and poets.
We understand this moment as the first choreography of our curatorial project. It is the singularity of this essay, which strays between borders, that will allow us to unfold the 35th Bienal de São Paulo’s networks in an extra-disciplinary and extra-institutional way. Right now, the central question is: would it be possible to bring forth networks that transcend an expansive spatial movement while, conversely, having as their starting points the gestures of listening, bringing forth redistribution policies, and caring towards people, spaces, and territories, all of which are themselves the very choreographies of the im/possible that inhabit institutional limits?
Inspired by non-linear and non-progressive perceptions of time, the 35th Bienal de São Paulo proposes also a reflection on how different registers of temporality can engender other modes of producing, feeling, exposing and relating to artistic practices. Spiraling, fractal, bent time(s); cadences that move bodies, dilate and contract spaces, and thus do not fit in chronologies or sequences. This immeasurable set of possibilities of living time is the core of our curatorial interest.
This is the spiraling movement we propose, the development of the performative and gradative character of curatorial and artistic processes. Let us say that this Bienal is about creating what is possible in a world ruled by impossibilities. This is our choreographic drawing.
Salvador, Berlin, São Paulo, Madrid, 2022
Letter from the President
Every two years, the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion becomes a stage for the most relevant works and themes in the art world at the time. Visitors walking among the paintings, sculptures, drawings, research, installations, and so many other languages in constant transformation, and realized by artists from the most diverse settings, can imagine the effort that goes into each part of the exhibition. The task of orchestrating a show on the scale of the Bienal de São Paulo, and with the degree of excellence that it demands, is only possible thanks to the collective work of professionals from the most varied specializations.
Everything begins with the choice of a curatorial proposal, which is always new, always innovative. From that moment, the preparations begin, only ending when the exhibition closes. The endless meetings and difficult decisions, messages exchanged and contracts needing signing, schedules and their multiple revisions, budget and fundraising, and strengthening ties with public authorities and private initiatives in a network of sponsors, supporters, and partnerships. Everything needs to be negotiated with transparency and designed in a way that respects the conservation of the pavilion itself — a jewel of modern architecture — as well as the environment, according to the institutional guidelines that include mitigating the event’s carbon footprint.
The production team transforms the abstract into concrete: building bridges between the collections, working alongside suppliers of the most varied trades, arranging transport, dealing with programming, and creating the conditions necessary for the works to be included in the exhibition with the utmost care, safety, and creativity. The education team offers formation courses for educators, sets up outreach programs in schools and research centers, produces educational publications, their tools of the trade, and mediates the relationship between the works and visitors interested in creating new connections between their experiences and the art exhibited in the show. The communication team, in turn, delivers news and announces the exhibition contents to a captive and demanding Bienal public while simultaneously inviting people who have never had the chance to see the exhibition up close. It is also down to them to coordinate publications, signpost the space, and tie together texts and images. In keeping with the financial and administrative health of the event, together, these teams provide the environment needed to host the Bienal.
The installations happen with tight deadlines, and each step in this phase must be studied and measured beforehand. First, the walls are erected and the architecture starts to take shape. The pavilion is overtaken by construction workers, wood, plaster, and iron. Once the building has been prepared, it is time to welcome the artworks and the boxes they are packaged in, which are unpacked so the installers can mount the works with care and precision. In an ocean of details and finishings, the text panels are mounted, the lights turn on, visitor guides take their places, and another Bienal opens its doors.
For the 35th Bienal de São Paulo, the curatorial collective formed of Diane Lima, Grada Kilomba, Hélio Menezes, and Manuel Borja-Villel, selected over a hundred participants who, in incalculable ways, choreographed the impossible. The Fundação Bienal de São Paulo is proud to hold this exhibition and, in its own way, to play a part in this impossible choreography, orchestrated by collective work.
José Olympio da Veiga Pereira
President – Fundação Bienal de São Paulo
In line with the curatorial project, the development of communication materials for the 35th Bienal will take on a process-based character, including graphic components that transform and densify over the different moments of the project. The visual identity for this edition features the commissioned work of the artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti, a renowned visual artist and educator born in Zimbabwe. Her commitment to highlighting the work and practices of black communities past, present, and future is evidenced by her conceptual approach to design, publishing, and archival practices. She currently holds the position of director of graduate studies in graphic design at the Yale School of Art in the United States.
At this time, the educational publication and a first version of the 35th Bienal website are being launched as the first applications of the edition’s visual identity. The website design is by Namibia Chroma and developed by Fluxo. It has content related to the educational project, as well as the curatorial and institutional presentation of the project. Over the coming months, the platform will be densified with additional sections and features, and new graphic treatments.
The setting for the choreographies of the impossible:
For the development of the architectural design of the 35th Bienal de São Paulo, the renowned team at Vão was invited. Vão is known for its innovative and award-winning approach in the field of architecture. The firm’s partners Anna Juni, Enk te Winkel, and Gustavo Delonero are highly regarded for their ability to create spaces that provoke interaction and reflection.
For the design of the 35th Bienal de São Paulo, Vão proposes an innovative look at the choreography of the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, exploring the relationship between the exhibition space and the visitor’s experience. The group took on the challenge of facing the modernist conceptual and structural conventions of the building itself, in order to create a different flow of movement in the relationship between artworks and people.
The architectural design developed by Vão promises to offer a new experience for visitors to the traditional Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion at the 35th Bienal de São Paulo, inviting the public to explore the space in a new way: the central opening of the Bienal Pavilion will be closed for the first time.
For the architects, the proposal goes beyond a new look at the iconic Pavilion: “From the very beginning, we sought a design that would place itself between the desire not to re-enact the existing spatial choreography and, at the same time, not to impose a different choreography, totally disconnected from its internal logics. To this end, we would have to dance with the existing and with the available. That is, in addition to the attention given to reusing materials left over from the old exhibitions, we aimed to create spaces from the constructive elements that constitute the Pavilion.”
Letters from our partners
Sharing the historic mission of the Ministry of Culture of the Federal Government to promote the growth of the cultural field and make it more accessible, in addition to fostering the creative economy, the Bienal de São Paulo now reaches its 35th edition with yet another innovative curatorial project in tune with the most urgent issues of our time. This is a milestone in the history of this event, whose goal has always been to welcome a wide audience and showcase the latest in the art world, while promoting sustainability and human rights, which are essential for strengthening an increasing civic culture.
Since its first edition in 1951, the Bienal de São Paulo has occupied a prestigious place in national culture that goes far beyond its exhibitions. Its consistent continuity over the years has been responsible for forming and training cultural workers in the most varied fields, such as educators, art critics, assemblers, architects, producers, editors, communicators, designers and many other trades, with each project directly and indirectly impacting an extraordinary number of individuals, families and lives.
Among the impacts of the exhibition, it is important to highlight the impeccable educational activity of the Bienal. Each of its editions creates the necessary conditions to reach new audiences and foster the critical knowledge of new visitors of all ages. With a permanent education team, the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo develops free courses, mediation activities and formation programs for educators and mediators, in addition to producing educational publications, essential working tools for artistic-pedagogical projects.
In the colorful and multiple framework of the Bienal de São Paulo, opportunities are created to learn more about ourselves, appreciate the diversity of the world and celebrate culture. For the Federal Government, represented here by the Ministry of Culture, there is no national unity without art, and no art without democracy. Let’s celebrate another Bienal de São Paulo. Long live art!
Minister of Culture of Brazil
In its 35-year history, Itaú Cultural (IC) has played a fundamental role in supporting art and culture in its most diverse languages and manifestations. This is achieved through research, content production, mapping, incentives, and dissemination, but also through partnerships with agents who are aligned with our values, such as the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.
Support for the Bienal de São Paulo – an important space of encounter and exchange between artists, curators, critics, and the public – reaffirms IC’s commitment to promoting the visual arts and their transformative role. Within this area, the organization is coordinating various actions, both physical and virtual exhibitions, as well as educational activities.
Among recent exhibitions, Um século de agora [A Century From Now] presented an overview of art and culture currently produced in Brazil, jointly curated by Júlia Rebouças, Luciara Ribeiro, and Naine Terena. Urban art also had its space, with Além das ruas: histórias do graffiti [Beyond the Streets: Graffiti Stories], running until the end of July. On itaucultural.org.br, the public can find the virtual exhibitions Filmes e vídeos de artistas [Films and Videos by Artists], which features audiovisual works of an experimental nature, and Livros de Artista na Coleção Itaú Cultural [Artist Books in the Itaú Cultural Collection], whose immersive and interactive resources allow for a detailed appreciation.
In the area of education, the Entreolhares program offers courses and workshops aimed at developing those who will work professionally in the field of the visual arts. These and other courses are available at Escola Itaú Cultural. The Enciclopédia Itaú Cultural is an important tool for sharing knowledge, offering access to entries on characters, works, and events in the visual arts.
Instituto Cultural Vale is delighted to be a part of the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible, and its educational program, which is exploring new formats and approaches this year.
Given the curatorial proposal to create a “space for experimentation, open to the dances of the unimaginable”, as defined by the curators, we have joined this initiative that connects art and education, expands access to culture and brings students, teachers and families closer to interdisciplinary experiences.
With a joint, horizontal and diverse curatorship, the Bienal – the largest contemporary art exhibition in the Southern Hemisphere – invites us to think of art as an exercise in dialogue, as an opening to new narratives and as a space for learning.
It is, in this regard, also connected to the purpose of the Instituto Cultural Vale: to expand opportunities for learning, reflecting, developing new visions and sharing art, culture and education inside and outside museums throughout Brazil.
Instituto Cultural Vale
Bloomberg is proud to sponsor choreographies of the impossible, the 35th edition of the Bienal de São Paulo. For more than a decade we have supported the Bienal’s exceptional contemporary art exhibitions in the stunning Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion in Ibirapuera Park and around Brazil, through our partnership with Fundação Bienal. This year’s edition continues the tradition of presenting captivating and thought-provoking art installations that are free and open to the public.
Every day, Bloomberg connects influential decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people, and ideas. With more than 19,000 employees in 176 offices, Bloomberg delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world. Our dedication to innovation and new ideas extends to our longstanding support of arts, which we believe are a valuable way to engage citizens and strengthen communities. Through our funding, we help increase access to culture and empower artists and cultural organizations to reach broader audiences.
Confronted with the incessant problems of humanity, perhaps it is worth dwelling a little longer on some open questions, taking sustenance from resources that allow us to dig and build answers procedurally. In this sense, art, in its many guises, offers fertile ground for critical elaborations about the world and ourselves.
The meeting of art and education – both understood as fields of knowledge – enables the torsion of time and space: it becomes possible, thus, to suspend neutralities and dilate what is precipitated in structures. How far is this approach able to infer the real and interfere in it? It allows us to (re)populate imaginaries, to unpick the universalizing statute attributed to concepts, practices and people, and thus to carve out reality with narratives that articulate the individual and the collective, in a procedural and coherent manner regarding the issues that permeate existence.
It is according to this panorama that Sesc São Paulo and the Fundação Bienal, through the 35th Bienal de São Paulo, reiterate their long-standing partnership, a mutual commitment to fostering experiences of coexistence with the visual arts, expanding access to cultural actions and the exercise of otherness.
This partnership, which has been established and renewed for over a decade, has led to the promotion of projects such as simultaneous exhibitions, public meetings, seminars and training for educators, as well as the consolidated itinerant exhibition with excerpts from the Bienal in Sesc units in the wider state of São Paulo. The confluence of choices and propositions is part of the institutional perspective of culture as a right, and conceives, together with one of the largest exhibitions in the country, an accessible horizon for contemporary art in Brazil.
Sesc São Paulo
Open Society Foundations
Acción Cultural Española (AC/E)
República Portuguesa – Cultura / Direção-Geral das Artes
The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia South America
Embajada de España en Brasil
Phileas – The Austrian Office for Contemporary Art
Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in São Paulo
National Center for Art Research
Consulate General of the Dominican Republic in São Paulo
Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in São Paulo
Consulado General y Centro de Promoción de la República Argentina en San Pablo
Prefeitura de São Paulo | Secretaria Municipal de Cultura
Governo Federal | Ministério da Cultura | Pronac – Lei de Incentivo à Cultura
Governo do Estado de São Paulo | Secretaria da Cultura do Estado de São Paulo | ProAC – Programa de Ação Cultural
Fundação Bienal de São Paulo
Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho · 1898–1977 · chairman emeritus
Eduardo Saron · president
Ana Helena Godoy Pereira de Almeida Pires · vice-president
Carlos Francisco Bandeira Lins
Maria Ignez Corrêa da Costa Barbosa
Pedro Aranha Corrêa do Lago
Pedro Paulo de Sena Madureira
Rubens José Mattos Cunha Lima
Alberto Emmanuel Whitaker
Alfredo Egydio Setubal
Ana Helena Godoy Pereira de Almeida Pires
Angelo Andrea Matarazzo
Antonio Henrique Cunha Bueno
Beatriz Yunes Guarita
Carlos Alberto Frederico
Carlos Augusto Calil
Claudio Thomaz Lobo Sonder
Daniela Montingelli Villela
Danilo Santos de Miranda
Flavia Buarque de Almeida
Flávia Cipovicci Berenguer
Flavia Regina de Souza Oliveira
Joaquim de Arruda Falcão Neto
José Olympio da Veiga Pereira (on leave)
Kelly de Amorim
Ligia Fonseca Ferreira
Lucio Gomes Machado
Manoela Queiroz Bacelar
Marcelo Mattos Araujo (on leave)
Miguel Wady Chaia
Neide Helena de Moraes
Octavio de Barros
Rodrigo Bresser Pereira
Ronaldo Cezar Coelho
Sérgio Spinelli Silva Jr.
Susana Leirner Steinbruch
Tito Enrique da Silva Neto
Edna Sousa de Holanda
Octavio Manoel Rodrigues de Barros
International Advisory Board
Maguy Etlin · president
Pedro Aranha Corrêa do Lago · vice-president
Andrea de Botton Dreesmann & Quinten Dreesmann
Mariana A. Teixeira de Carvalho
Paula Macedo Weiss & Daniel Weiss
Board of Directors
José Olympio da Veiga Pereira · president
Marcelo Mattos Araujo · first vice-president
Andrea Pinheiro · second vice-president
Ana Paula Martinez
Francisco J. Pinheiro Guimarães
Maria Rita Drummond
Antonio Thomaz Lessa Garcia · chief operating officer
Felipe Isola · chief projects officer
Joaquim Millan · chief projects officer
Caroline Carrion · chief communications officer
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35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible
Sylvia Monasterios · curatorial assistance
Tarcisio Almeida · curatorial assistance
Matilde Outeiro · curatorial assistance 2022
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