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Live Coverage: World Biennial Forum No. 2, 26-30 November


One might say that Elvira Dyangani Ose’s point of departure in her personal and engaging reflection is that the experience is the exhibition and seeing people as it’s infrastructure (Simon)
Combining personal stories with phrases like “we didn’t have the money that year to celebrate the biennale”, “for and with the audience” and “the situation you are working with affects the way you work” she manages to convincingly argue for cases where precariousness is the organisational principle, but imagination the central asset, sometimes even transcending the barrier between audience and spectator, organiser and participant.


Analysing and presenting a number of examples of the prerogative questions posed by the educational department at the Sao Paulo Biennale and the framework that condition them, Cayo Honorato asks about the difference between addressing public in the singular and publics as a plural and if the educators and educational material often disappears with the audience. In short, the specific “sort of” questions that no one is expected to answer and cultivate uncertainty. What does it mean when a question is not a question and when it does not have to be answered?


Closing address: Marieke van Hal introduces the Guest of Honor, Ivo Mesquita, for what he has done for ‘the biennial’ in general, not only for Sao Paulo Bienal

Ivo Mesquita (Brazil) has been technical director of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo since May 2012 and was chief curator at the same institution between 2006 and 2012. He was researcher and assistant curator at the São Paulo Biennial Foundation for eight years, co-curator of the 20th and 24th Bienal de São Paulo and chief curator of its 28th edition. He taught as visiting professor for eleven years at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, in New York, and was Director of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo in 1999. As an independent curator, he has contributed to projects for various international institutions. He was the curator of the Brazilian Pavilion at the 1999 and 2009 Venice Biennale and one of the curators of the bi-national project InSite in Tijuana, Mexico, in 1997 and 2000.

Audio record of Curating and Latin America, a talk by Ivo Mesquita at Escola da Cidade

Bienais, Bienais, Bienais, an essay by Ivo Mesquita published at Revista USP in the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the São Paulo Bienal


Since 1999, Ivo Mesquita has been working in Museums but his trajectory is linked with the Sao Paulo Bienal. He describes himself as a living archive and memory of the Bienal and the experience of the 28th Bienal as a way of paying a personal debt to this institution. The biennial was in the past a heroic gesture of a national enterprise and today it turned into the representation of local communities. Taking Venice for instance, every new edition new Pavilions appear with new identities, he argues. In the 28th Bienal, Ivo worked with a team of young curators. In his words, to organise a biennial one deserves the energy of youth. About his experience as the general curator of the 28th Bienal, he underlines the curatorial strategy of bringing the institutional critic into the institution.

Maybe one last remark we can make is the fact that Sao Paulo always tried to be a hegemonic centre, however it was always recognised abroad as a Latin American biennial. Considering Global South as a speculative notion, according to Charles Esche, shall we consider São Paulo Biennial as a ‘southern’ Biennial? Or is its history connected to those of Venice and Kassel Documenta?