PRINT September 1998

World Report

the Bienal de São Paulo

THE BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO, Which was established in 1951 by the Italian-Brazilian businessman Francisco Matarazzo, was designed to introduce South American audiences to recent trends in contemporary art, much like its Venetian counterpart. Since 1994, however, the BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO has redefined itself, offering an eclectic mix of the old and the new as a way to attract larger audiences. This year’s edition is being curated by Brazilian critic Paulo Herkenhoff, who is working with a $12 million budget, the largest ever. He has built the exhibition around the concept of anthropophagy, or cannibalism, as it was first outlined by the Brazilian writer Oswald de Andrade in his Manifesto Antropófago (1928) and later expanded by several generations of Brazilian artists and thinkers. In his landmark text, de Andrade related the construction of national identity to a process of active assimilation and transformation of foreign influences.

Among the artists represented in the section devoted to international contemporary art are Michael Asher, Miguel Rio Branco, General Idea, Victor Grippo, Janet Cardiff, and Doris Salcedo. A concurrent film series related to the topic and organized by Catherine David, curator of Documenta X, is planned. The historical section will feature works by Brazilian Modernist painter Tarsila do Amaral, Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros, Brazilian multimedia artist Hélio Oiticica, Brazilian Conceptualist Cildo Meireles, and Francis Bacon, not to mention Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Matisse. The Bienal de São Paulo is slated to run from October 3 to December 13, 1998.

Carlos Basualdo