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Performance by Neo Muyanga at the Ciccillo Matarazzo pavilion in the Parque do Ibirapuera on February 8. Photo: Levi Fanan/Fundação Bienal De São Paulo.

São Paulo Bienal Postpones Thirty-Fourth Edition

The São Paulo Bienal in Brazil has become the latest art-world event to announce that it will no longer take place as planned. Organizers announced on Wednesday that, in order to “protect the safety of visitors, artists, and collaborators, in response to the challenges the whole world is facing,” the thirty-fourth edition of the exhibition will be postponed.

The opening of the biennial, which was initially planned for September 5, will be pushed back to October 3, and the closing date will be moved to December 13. Programming that would have been staged in the lead-up to the event will also be rescheduled. Solo exhibitions dedicated to Clara Ianni and Deana Lawson as well as performances by León Ferrari and Hélio Oiticica, which were expected to take place between April and August, will now be incorporated into the group show this fall.

“The executive board of the Fundação Bienal and the curators of the Thirty-Fourth Bienal are in communication with the partner institutions of this edition to keep the network of exhibitions that was planned together with these venues as intact as possible,” José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, the president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, said in a statement. “With its ability to move us and connect us to one another, art is more necessary now than ever. Fundação Bienal’s teams are working (remotely) to find ways to enable the institution to contribute positively during this difficult time.”

While Brazil had more than 2,500 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and sixty deaths as of Thursday afternoon, the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, has so far dismissed the dangers of the pandemic and is calling for Brazilians to return to work and continue their usual activities. According to the Washington Post, in recent statements, he has likened COVID-19 to a cold—despite Brazil’s minister of health’s warnings that the health care system will be completely overwhelmed by the end of April—and blamed the media for causing hysteria.

Among the numerous biennials forced to shift programming and move their opening dates due to COVID-19 are the Hammer Museum’s “Made in LA 2020: a version,” the fourteenth Dak’Art Biennale of Contemporary Art, the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, and the Twenty-Second Biennale de Sydney, which opened to the public for a week before it closed all of its physical spaces on March 23 and moved online.

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