No. 2: How to Make Biennials in Contemporary Times

No. 2: How to Make Biennials in Contemporary Times

World Biennial Forum

Photo: Sofia Colucci / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.

November 5, 2014

World Biennial Forum No. 2
How to Make Biennials in Contemporary Times

November 26–30, 2014

São Paulo

Directed by Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente, Oren Sagiv, Benjamin Seroussi and Luiza Proença

Hosted by the 31st Bienal de São Paulo

Organized by Biennial Foundation, Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, ICCo – Instituto de Cultura Contemporânea

Venue: Auditório Ibirapuera
Free admission: registration closes on November 15. Register here.

Initiated by Biennial Foundation

Taking the idea of the “Global South” as a starting point, a term we understand as one that is still in the process of definition, the World Biennial Forum No. 2 will look at how this geography shapes the current condition of world biennials. What pitfalls and possibilities might southern biennials present for biennial cultures in (sometimes desperate) need of renovation? What happens to the form of the biennial when biennials become part of a world system of art institutions subject to a global temporality? Can a biennial occur as the expression of a common will, or as a desire for the formation of a public sphere? Who are biennials organized for? And does love have anything to do with it? These are some of the questions the World Biennial Forum No. 2 will pose. 

This year’s Forum includes the voices of curators and researchers who are looking at the changes within the landscape and ecology of the biennial at the present time. It will open with Peter Osborne’s evening keynote speech, “Contemporaneity and the Biennial.” Over the following two days, four public discussions will look at the history and the current practice of organizing biennials within the Global South. Speakers and papers will focus on perennial events across the globe, from Ecuador, Greece and Turkey, to Benin, Brazil, Indonesia and Senegal. 

The first day’s sessions will focus on how biennial histories are accounted for and preserved. “Once Again, as If for the First Time” will look at biennial institutions as a whole, discussing how they both reproduce themselves and radically change over time. “Works and Their Changing Places” will discuss particular artworks and their appearance in different biennial contexts. The second day will look broadly at the question of how a public is constructed through biennials, while considering the different criteria for what a public is. To this end, “No More Imagined Communities” will focus on the emergence of new biennials in the Global South, while “Popularity without Populism” will look at specific public and educational ambitions. 

On both days of the World Biennial Forum No. 2, workshops on biennial practice will take place, moderated by the artistic directors. In these workshops, practitioners engaged with biennial politics will discuss issues closely related to the World Biennial Forum No. 2′s wider aims: to question and provoke the concept of the biennial while attempting to construct new exhibition (hi)stories. The overall intention is to stimulate new thought on what the potential of the biennial is in contemporary times. 

Opening and keynote address
November 26

Public discussions / professional workshops
November 27 and 28

Visit to 31st Bienal de São Paulo with an introduction by the artistic directors
November 29

Visit to other venues in São Paulo
November 30

Guest of Honor: Ivo Mesquita

Speakers in the public discussions: Moacir dos Anjos, Ana Paula Cohen, Fabio Cypriano, Övül Durmusoglu, Reem Fadda, Marina Fokidis, Anthony Gardner, Martin Grossmann, Cayo Honorato, Anne Szefer Karlsen, Ana Gonçalves Magalhães, Ivo Mesquita, Manuela Moscoso, Fernando Oliva, Peter Osborne, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Lucy Steeds, and David Teh

Invited respondents to the workshops on biennial practice: Ute Meta Bauer, Koyo Kouoh, Azar Mahmoudian, Combiz Mousavi Aghdam, Patrick Mudekereza, Yvette Mutumba, Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi, Alya Sebti, and Suzana Sousa

Biennial Foundation
Lisa Mazza: lm [​at​] /

ICCo – Instituto de Cultura Contemporânea
Julia Saleme: wbf2 [​at​] /

Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Press Agent: A4 Comunicação 
Bruno Palma
brunopalma [​at​] / T +55 (11) 3897 4122 

WBF No. 2 is presented by: Ministério da Cultura do Brasil, and Banco Itaú

Co-sponsor: CESP – Companhia de Energia de São Paulo

In partnership with Itamaraty – Ministério das Relações Exteriores do Brasil; Governo do Estado de São Paulo; Prefeitura de São Paulo; Secretaria de Cultura e Secretaria do Verde e Meio Ambiente; Auditório Ibirapuera; Itaú Cultural; ifa – Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations; Arts Council England; British Council; Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Sao Paulo; Goethe-Institut São Paulo; Prince Claus Fund; OCA – Office for Contemporary Art Norway; Embassy of Norway in Brazil; Turkish Consulate General in São Paulo; Turkish Airlines; IBA – International Biennial Association. 

Advisory Partner WBF No. 2: ifa – Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations

Media Partners: ARTE!Brasileiros; South as a State of Mind; frieze

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