LUIS PÉREZ-ORAMAS, the chief curator of the Thirtieth São Paulo Bienal, stakes out a critical space for an “imminent poetics”for “what is on the verge of happening, the word on the tip of one’s tongue,” as he puts itas if now is the time for art to open onto the “about to be” rather than remain in thrall to melancholic reflections on “that which has been,” or on what art has lost of its own histories. The exhibition makes the claim that to turn away from an art of explicit social engagement is not necessarily, or not only, to turn inward or backward to older formalisms; there may be ways to imagine the efficacy of art beyond this simple dichotomy.
Certainly, the hundreds of artworks on view here veer away from obvious social or political content, making the case for a more nuanced sense of what a relationship between art and politics might look like. To be frank, the
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