The 35th edition Latin America's biggest biennial, the São Paulo Bienal, is foregoing the appointment of a chief curator for its 2023 edition, and will instead be organised by the Portuguese artist Grada Kilomba, the Spanish art historian Manuel Borja-Villel, and the Brazilian curators and critics Diane Lima and Hélio Menezes.
The exhibition, which includes a main presentation in the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion in Ibirapuera Park and satellite exhibitions held in Brazilian and international institutions, will be titled Coreografias do Impossível (Impossible Choreographies). The Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, the foundation that oversees the biennial exhibition, will announce more details regarding the curatorial framework of the show in the coming months.
José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, a major art collector and museum trustee, as well as the president of the Brazilian branch of Credit Suisse, was appointed the president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo in 2018 to serve a two-year term, which has been extended. He tells The Art Newspaper that the decision to forego a chief curator was “guided by the proposal for the exhibition, which proved to be bold and outside the box”.
He adds, “We invited several specialists and two teams ended up voluntarily integrating their proposals into a single one. This collective and horizontal curatorial model is part of the concept. With this strong team, diverse in experiences and practices, with plural visions, and an ambitious plan for the project, I have extremely positive expectations. I think we will have a brilliant Bienal.”
The exhibition has adopted similar models in its 1989, 2010 and 2014 editions, which were “marked by the concept of collectivity and plurality of visions”, he says.
Kilomba, who made headlines in December after her proposal for the Portuguese pavilion of the 59th Venice Biennale was rejected, creates work that deals with racism and the effects of colonisation; her latest stateside presentation was held at the Amant Foundation in New York in October last year. Borja-Villel has been the director of the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid since 2018, and served as the director of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona from 1990-98. And Lima and Menezes are both longtime art critics and researchers, with significant experience in Brazil and abroad.
The São Paulo Bienal, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, is the longest-running international exhibition after the Venice Biennale. The last edition of the exhibition, which dealt with political polarisation, reached more than 3.4 million viewers, including 2.7 million online and 700,000 in-person visitors, of whom 400,000 visited the presentation held in the main pavilion and 300,000 went to partner institutions.