31a Bienal De Arte De São Paulo, Brazil. Oct
I have just participated in the ‘Perpendicular Bienal’ – a curated performance intervention on the São Paulo 31st Biennale. It was a 4 day event in the Bienal foundation in Ibirapuera Park, and included about 30 artists. The theme was ‘I am present’. We worked together to create a peaceful provocative presence on the biennial pavilion. It had free entry so attracted a diverse audience. The pieces ranged from individual to collaborative, some artists responded to the situation and space and others mounted pieces they had done elsewhere in the situation of the exhibition. By the third day the security staff was fed up with us entering and exiting the exhibition, and some artists had made actions that were not looked upon well – so even though the biennial curator welcomed us to the exhibit in person and encouraged our work, ultimately the security couldn’t deal with it, and we eventually got banned from the main exhibition space. On the third day, my collaborator and I set up to do a silent, still, seated performance in the space, and were forcibly removed. Instead all the artists occupied the foyer area, and we made ou works there. It was still an effective presence, but did not allow us the full dialogue we wanted our presence to have with the exhibition, so many people devised 'invisible' performances so that security would not know. After a while, even regular visitors to the exhibit were being approached and asked if they were doing a performance and to please leave! However, apparently this tension had existed between the biennale management and the security staff before we showed up, so it is interesting how an intervention like this makes public those intricate internal goings on that an institution like a museum or the biennial deal with, and how that shapes the work that is accessible to us.
After all.. the art world is curating interventions now?!
I worked collaboratively with Pakistani artist Abi Tariq. We spent the first day being in the space, experiencing the works and the people’s movement through the space. We then did three performances over the next three days. I have written about two of the performances here above, Note on not-knowing II, and Act of being; active reading/writing.