Bienal de São Paulo inaugurates its new edition
Titled Incerteza viva [Live Uncertainty], the 32 nd Bienal de São Paulo will focus on notions of “uncertainty” and “entropy” to reflect on the current conditions of life in times of constant change and the strategies offered by contemporary art to harbor or inhabit uncertainties.
In order to objectively confront the big questions of our time, such as the current climate change crisis and its impact on our habitats, the extinction of species and the loss of biological and cultural diversity, economic and political instability, injustice in the distribution of the earth's natural resources and global migration, among others, perhaps it's necessary to detach uncertainty from fear.
Uncertainty is clearly connected to notions endemic to the body and the earth, with a viral quality in organisms and ecosystems. Though it is related to the word crisis, it is not equivalent to it. Uncertainty is, above all, a psychological condition linked to individual or collective decisionmaking processes, describing the understanding and nonunderstanding of concrete problems.
The notion of uncertainty is part of the repertoire of many disciplines – from mathematics to astronomy, and also including linguistics, biology, sociology, anthropology, history and education. Unlike what goes on in other fields, though, uncertainty in art points to disorder, taking into account ambiguity and contradiction. Art feeds off of uncertainty, chance, improvisation, speculation and, at the same time, it attempts to count the uncountable and measure the immeasurable. It makes room for error, for doubt and even for ghosts and the most profound misgivings within all of us, but without manipulating them. Would it not make sense then to take the numerous methods of reasoning and executing art and apply them to other fields of public life?
Learning to live with uncertainty can teach us solutions. Understanding the significance of Live Uncertainty on a daytoday basis means remaining aware of the fact that we exist immersed in an environment that is ruled by it. As such, we can propose other means of action in times of constant change. Discussing uncertainty requires an understanding of the diversity of knowledge, being that describing the unknown implies questioning everything that we assume to be known. And yet it also means valuing scientific and symbolic codes as complementary rather than exclusionary. Art promotes an active exchange between people, recognizing uncertainties as guiding generative and constructive systems.
The result of an investigative process initiated in March of 2015, the final list presents a selection of participants from 33 countries characterized by a strong presence of artists born after 1970, women – who represent over half of the artists invited – and commissioned projects, produced for the context of the exhibition .
According to curator Jochen Volz, the artists in the 32 nd Bienal provide strategies and speculations on how to live with uncertainty. ‘We are seeking to understand diversity, to look at the unknown and question what we assume to be known. We view the different knowledges of our world as complementary rather than exclusionary.’
Many of the involve artistic residencies in the city of São Paulo and research travels in Brazil. To cite a few examples: Carla Filipe in partnership with the Instituto de Botânica de São Paulo [Botanical Institute of São Paulo] is developing a garden of edible plants, spontaneous plants and endangered plants; Iza Tarasewicz is studying the presence in Brazil of the Polish musical rhythm known as Mazurka; Dalton Paula visited three cities involved in the tobacco economy, and Pilar Quinteros traveled to Serra do Roncador, in Mato Grosso State, to follow the tracks of the explorer Percy Fawcett (18671925), who disappeared in the 1920s.
‘The proximity of the curators with the Fundação Bienal team, as well as the expansion of the institution's partnerships, make the 32 nd Bienal an especially fertile edition,’ says foundation president Luís Terepins. ‘So far, we are counting on the commitment of 61 partners, including companies, governmental agencies and cultural institutions. In addition, the Fundação Bienal has also strengthened its relationships with international organizations that support the arts. By the time the exhibition opens, we will have a considerably higher number of supporters than the recent editions of the Bienal, an asset from the foundation added to the curatorial work.’
For example, recently, partnerships with organizations from Chile, Ghana and Peru helped to enable the realization of the Study Days in Santiago (Chile), Acra (Ghana) and Lamas (Peru), with a strong impact on the development of the curatorial proposal.