Views from the exhibition at Ibirapuera

Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo, Brazil

About the exhibition
Charles Esche

São Paulo Biennial Exhibition at Serralves

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How to (…) things that don’t exist – an exhibition developed out of the 31st São Paulo Biennial
from 02 OCT 2015 to 17 JAN 2016
The São Paulo Biennial was initiated in 1951 and is the second oldest art biennial in the world, after the Venice Biennial, which was set up in 1885 and served as its model. The biennial serves to bring Brazilian art closer to an international audience and vice-versa. This will be the first time in its more than 60 years history that the São Paulo Biennial will travel outside of Brazil.
The exhibition’s investigation into art’s revelatory potential is being reconfigured for the physical, social and cultural context of the city of Porto and Serralves Museum. The selected artworks, from paintings and sculptures to video and installation, distil the ideas of the Brazilian exhibition and focus on how art can alter ways of thinking about the world. Through imagining forms of life and society that are different or do not (yet) exist, the artworks question the authority of religion, history and systems of control and suggest how it could be different. The title of the exhibition is itself in constant change with the mutating verb suggesting some of the many, different ways to experience art as a process of becoming. 

As well as the works from the Biennial, the presentation at Serralves features a specially curated programme of discussions, the PROGRAMME IN TIME, an extensive public programme developed by the Biennial’s team of curators together with the Education Department of the Serralves Museum. This programme will unfold at three major moments and is founded on an exhaustive research carried out by the Biennial’s curators in Porto and Lisbon, where they met with young artists, activists and researchers and visited artist-run spaces, universities and art cooperatives. 

‘How to (…) things that don’t exist - an exhibition developed out of the 31st São Paulo Biennial’ is curated by Charles Esche, Galit Eilat and Oren Sagiv, assisted by Serralves curators Ricardo Nicolau and Paula Fernandes,  and organized by the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo in collaboration with the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto. The exhibition in São Paulo was additionally curated by Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente with Benjamin Serrousi and Luiza Proenca. 
The exhibition won an award at the III Ibero-American Call for Curatorial Projects, Conversations, organised by the Ibermuseums Programme.

Support: Ministry of Culture of Brazil 

Image: Prabhakar Pachpute, Image developed for the visual identity of the 31st São Paulo Biennial, 2014. Courtesy of the artist and Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Related Activities

2 OCT (FRI), 18h30, Museum Galleries
Conference "São Paulo Biennial”
By Fábio Cypriano, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de SP and Folha de São Paulo (Brasil).

3 OCT (SAT), 14h30, Museum Galleries
Symposium On Education - Art and participatory education
The symposium ‘On Education - Art and participatory education’ will begin with an exploration of the strategies of the education and mediation programme in the 31st São Paulo Biennial and move out from there to wider art education issues. Education within a mega-exhibition with a huge visitor base demands different kinds of approaches yet nevertheless strives to provide meaningful encounters for people with art and the public exhibition. The symposium will attempt to analyse the success of different educational strategies in terms of engagement and experimentation. In particular, education will be discussed in the light of the complex and pluralistic tradition of radical education, including the diverse legacies of Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich and Henry Giroux. 
Is it possible for biennials and/or museums to learn from this radical education tradition that is anti-hierarchical, politically engaged and participatory? Given that its intentions are closely related to the struggles of the poor and powerless for equality and rights, how can art institutions shape their programmes to take account of its potential? How can its critique of traditional education practice be implemented in art exhibition programmes? The symposium will examine both the regular education programme developed by the São Paulo Biennial Foundation and other strategies developed by participating artists and curators that attempted different ways to address communities and urban cultures.
Participants: Graziela Kunsch, Urbânia magazine (Brazil), Alessandro Petti e Sandi Hilal, Architects (Palestine), Contrafilé, Artists (Brazil) and Cayo Honorato, Professor and researcher in Art and Education (Brazil) 
Moderation: Liliana Coutinho 

31 OCT (SAT), 15h00
Symposium ‘Reverse Colonialism’ 
The relations between Portugal and its former colonies and the contemporary artistic interpretation of the approach to colonial histories, both at the level of art production and institutional development. 
Participants: José Neves (PT), Lígia Afonso (PT), Manuela Ribeiro Sanches (PT), Filipa César (PT), Nuno Domingos (PT)
Moderation: Marta Lança (PT)
More information here

12 DEC (SAT), 15h00-19h00
Symposium ‘Right to the City ― Criminalisation of the Poor’ 
Will address ways in which it is still possible to exercise the rights of citizenship even in situation of persisting and increasing poverty. 
- Carolina Christoph Grillo (Brazil)
- José António Pinto (Portugal)
- Raquel Rolnik (Brasil) - Will not be present, due to unforseen circumstances. 
- Luís Fernandes (Portugal) 
- Virgílio Borges Pereira (Portugal)
Moderation: Amarante Abramovici (Portugal)


3 OCT (SAT), 18h30
Guided visit to the exhibition
With curators Charles Esche and Galit Eilat

29 OCT (THU), 19h30
Guided visit exclusive for members of Amigos de Serralves
by Ricardo Nicolau

Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa, Yael Bartana, Anna Boghiguian, Johanna Calle, Tony Chakar, Chto Delat, Contrafilé, Danica Dakic, Etcétera & Léon Ferrari, Nilbar Güres, Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti, Clara Ianni & Débora Maria da Silva, Voluspa Jarpa, Edward Krasinski, Graziela Kunsch & Lilian L'Abbate Kelian, Mark Lewis, Ana Lira, Gabriel Mascaro, Virginia de Medeiros, Cildo Meireles, Éder Oliveira, Bruno Pacheco, Agnieszka Piksa, Armando Queiroz & Almires Martins & Marcelo Rodrigues, Walid Raad, Juan Carlos Romero, Wilhelm Sasnal, Qiu Zhijie

How to (live with) things that don’t exist features 28 artists and artist collectives selected from the 31st São Paulo Biennial, which was presented in the Oscar Niemeyer designed pavilion in the Ibirapuera Park between 6 September and 7 December 2014. The curatorial selection for Serralves has been made by Charles Esche, Galit Eilat and Oren Sagiv, three of the curators of the São Paulo exhibition. 

How to (learn from) things that don't exist also includes an important work by the Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles from the Serralves Collection. The works of other Brazilian artists are strongly represented in the selection and reveal ways in which the current artistic generation has emerged from the shadow of Tropicalismo and Brazilian modernism. Artists from Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Palestine, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Turkey are also featured, as are a number of projects made especially for the Biennial. 
Notable works include the powerful wall portraits of Éder Oliveira (1983, Brazil); the video Ymá Nhandehetama by Armando Queiroz (1968, Brazil) that recounts the invisibility of the indigenous people of Brazil in their own country; the river drawings of Anna Boghiguian (1946, Egypt), and the film installation by Virginia de Medeiros (1973, Brazil) address gender issues, religious rituals and spirituality. The transparent mobile of Voluspa Jarpa (1971, Chile) and the video work of Clara Ianni (1987, Brazil) bring together the ghosts from the colonial past and the legacies of dictatorship. Both these histories and the intensity of contemporary urban life are ever present throughout the exhibition. This reimagined Biennale also takes on a more fictional and metaphorical character with installations by Walid Raad (1967, Lebanon), Edward Krasinski (1925?2004, Poland), paintings by Wilhelm Sasnal (1972, Poland) and a dramatic film by Yael Bartana (1970, Israel) imagining the destruction of the Temple of Solomon in São Paulo. 

Charles Esche (Scotland, 1962) is a curator, writer and part of the curatorial team of the 31st São Paulo Bienal. Since 2004, he has been Director of the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands. In 2012, he established together with 6 other European museums the L'Internationale confederation that aims to establish a European modern and contemporary art institution by 2017.. He is a professor and co-director of Afterall Journal and Afterall Books with Mark Lewis and co-curator of the forthcoming Jakarta Biennale 2015. He has (co) curated a number of international contemporary art biennales and other events including Muslim Mulliqi Prize, 2012, It Doesn't have to be Beautiful Unless it's Beautiful at National Gallery of Kosovo, Prishtinë (with Galit Eilat); 2nd and 3rd RIWAQ Biennials, Ramallah, Palestine, 2009 and 2007 (with Khalil Rabah and Reem Fadda); 9th Istanbul Biennial. 2005 (with Vasif Kortun, Esra Saregidik and November Paynter); 4th Gwangju Biennale, 2002 with Hou Hanru and Song Wan Kyung). Between 2000 and 2004 he was the Director of Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art in Malmo, Sweden and from 1998-02 he organized the international art academic research project called ‘protoacademy’ at Edinburgh College of Art. From 1993-97 Esche was Visual Arts Director at Tramway, Glasgow. 

Galit Eilat (Israel, 1965) is part of the curatorial team of the 31st São Paulo Biennial. She is a writer, freelance curator and the founding director of The Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon. Co-founder of Ma'arav — an online arts and culture magazine, she currently is a research curator at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven as well as a member of the Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne. Most recent curated and co-curated exhibitions include: ‘It doesn’t always have to be beautiful, unless it’s beautiful’ (2012), (co-curator Charles Esche), National Gallery Kosovo, Kosovo; ‘A Voyage To Cythera’ (2012), The Berlin Medical Historical Museum, Berlin, Germany; ‘And Europe will be stunned’ (2012), Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands; ‘Beyond the Truth’ (2011) (co-curator Alenka Gregoric) City Art Gallery of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia; ‘Black and White’ (2011) (co-curator Lukasz Ronduda), Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland; ‘It’s Time We Got To Know Each Other’ (2011), October Salon 52nd (co-curator Alenka Gregoric), The Museum of Yugoslav History, Belgrade, Serbia.

Oren Sagiv (Israel, 1969) is part of the curatorial team of the 31st São Paulo Biennial. Working out of his own studio, Sagiv has focused on installation architecture, and designing art exhibitions, theatre, dance and performances. The scope of his work ranges from large-scale public projects, such as the Intersection | Prague Quadriennial (2011), as well as temporary urban interventions, to small scale and experimental interdisciplinary projects. Sagiv is the Head Exhibition Designer of the Israel Museum, in Jerusalem, and is Professor in the Department of Architecture at Bezalel Academy for Art and Design in Jerusalem.

  • LocationSerralves Museum
  • Days 02 OCT 2015 - 17 JAN 2016


How to (talk about) things that don't exist

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