Open to all languages and formats since 2011, this edition’s Southern Panoramas competitive show featured installations, videoinstallations, drawings, sculptures, paintings, artist books and videos. Selected from a bevy of over 2,000 projects submitted during an open call, the 94 artists shortlisted for this edition of the show presented the board of curators with the challenge of mapping contemporary production in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania.

The exhibition attempts to outline an expressive, dynamic overview of recent output from the Southern scene. Far from intending to provide a complete panorama, the show embraces the risk posed by an open call-based shortlist. Southern Panoramas is more of a view based on discourses and propositions than it is a program founded upon a previously conceived thesis or idea. Thus, it covers aesthetical, political, social and subjective issues that characterize both the contemporary period in a broader sense, and the tensions specific to the Southern scene.

Sesc Pompeia hosted this edition of Southern Panoramas, featuring 106 pieces in the 2nd floor of its sports complex. 

Selected artists

Selected works

Awards

Trophy design

Made from bronze and color wax, the 18th Festival trophy is a pomegranate-shaped sculpture by the São Paulo-based artist Erika Verzutti. "The fruit was a natural choice, as I was looking through my known repertoire for a shape that also had a celebratory aspect to it," she says. "It is a precious shape, highly expressive, a bit physiognomic, and it is also associated with luck."

Selection commitee text 2013

In Search of the Other

The Southern Panoramas exhibition at the 18th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil draws a dynamic diagram that plots an expressive sample of the most recent artistic production throughout the geopolitical South (Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Oceania). This sample invites us to seek out a set of aesthetic, political, social, and subjective issues that characterize both contemporaneity in general and the typical specific tensions of this territory-network, its contexts and exchanges, in particular.    

The dynamics and perspectives of this diagram build multiple approximations, favoring intense dialogue between distinct forms of artistic expression, divergent worldviews, all order of appropriations and rearticulations of tradition and history; and all of this seen through the prism of the South and the varied translocations, sojourns, and journeys that take place between it and the North. The lines this diagram draws between points on its axis—which retain fragments of their contexts of origin—graph situations of dialogue that share a search for new narratives and forms of living with and of assimilating the Other.   

In order to lend visibility to the dynamics of this diagram, and in addition to our own private views, the curatorial gesture positions itself somewhere between what the works say and the possible proximities, distances, and recurrences this imprints upon the selection as a whole. Far from purporting to cover everything, and so escaping the presumptuousness of a totalizing vision, the configuration of Southern Panoramas reveals the constant tension that comes of working from projects received from artists through open submissions.        On the one hand, this signals great potency, but, on the other, it also brings to bear a deep-set rearticulation of the curatorial construction. Far from attempting to prove a theory or develop a closed curatorial discourse, it operates through approximation, plotting its diagram in a sensitive fashion, mindful of the social, political, and economic differences that characterize the complexity of contemporary geopolitics.   

The exhibition received some two thousand submissions from ninety-four countries throughout the geopolitical South. Videobrasil’s thirty-year history and the Festival’s countless offshoots—traveling shows, debate cycles, publications—have made it widely known among artists, curators, theorists, and the public, leading to a large number of quality submissions that makes selection a welcome challenge. In this sense, the axes that organize the works were born from the slow scrutiny to which the set is subjected in order to gauge the intensity of the works and start to draw up the diagram from which the exhibition ultimately derives.   

The Southern Panoramas section of this edition is significant, as the Festival enters its thirtieth year of a development curve that has always been sensitive to changes in the many spheres of life—and, above all, to the total rearticulation of contemporary artistic production. As such, at the same time as the show lends form to the emergence of the present day, it also positions itself before the established tradition, characterized by open dialogue with concerns coming down to us from different historical periods.   

Upon seeing all of the works, the diagram gradually came together. A lot of trial and error went into our search for the most powerful and complex arrangement, capable of favoring possible relationships of attraction or repulsion. The hundred and something works from thirty-two countries that make up Southern Panoramas enabled us to glimpse a pulsating body of questions that subtly spills beyond the exhibition itself into the other activities and actions—the public programs, TV appearances, and publications—that take place during the Festival. 

The diagram takes shape in the various works that comprise the exhibition, among paintings, performances, sculptures, drawings, objects, books, installations, videos, and photographs. By generating so many forms of relation and fruition, they evince the vigor of the artistic output of the geopolitical South and art’s power to open up to other discourses and narratives.    

Possible Densities

In a region marked by so many conflicts, which orbit equally varied issues, the artistic production of the geopolitical South seems to provoke a new perception of history, one more closely aligned with its own specific questions and grounded upon a southern perspective. From identity to territorial and border conflicts, we can see that the way these disputes echo throughout the works gives rise to new creative procedures and strategies with which to broach them. Enveloped in other issues, such as memory and the centrality of subjectivizing processes, the conflicts infuse the works with new complexities. If, on the one hand, they indicate other forms of resolution, on the other, they reinforce the need to lend visibility to these conflicts, to expand them, and make them circulate, thus generating new readings and counter-readings.     Unfolding from this are the political issues, which oscillate between the micropolitical, of a more subjective and identity-based order, to a rearticulation of the major historical narratives that still heavily condition our visions.  

In the contemporary world, identity is a course taken, a processual dynamic that never settles, but is an endless coming-to-be. To narrate identity in this day and age is a fundamental risk that must be taken if we are to fathom the complexities that alterity can assume. Myself and the Other exist. Together, we can get to know each other, hiding and revealing ourselves. Those works that succeed in getting closer to these processes reveal the intensity that such a play of identities can achieve. Here we see the force with which everyday, ordinary life can subvert order. Sexuality becomes the vehicle through which subjectivities and singularities make themselves felt. It’s a politics of those subjectivities that need to make themselves seen.    

For visions of identity and politics, the starting point can be either the more private and domestic dimension or critical and creative interactions with the mass media and emerging social networks, all of which can be filtered in many ways into a multi-shaped political construction that subverts both the more traditional notions, and the ways contemporary artistic production is approached and reverberates. The art/politics binomial, which has fed critical discourse and reflection over recent years, now seems to be a somewhat uncomfortable label no longer apt to qualify the possible angles art has brought on the multiplicities of politics in contemporaneity, much less the way the political sphere has come to mix with other, distinct social domains.    

In this context, memory reclaims its singular fable-spinning power in a movement that confronts and creates tensions between the personal, private, and subjective dimensions and the more collective, generic outlines of history. Emotion becomes a fundamental element in these dynamics, using its power to generate new contexts for the contemporary halls of memory.  

What can be said of memory in the age of global, digital communication, with the array of technological devices that extend and rearticulate it? What can be said of the thousands of images that circulate nonstop today? How are we not to forget, seeing as, between collective and personal memory, the best way out is oftentimes not to remember anything at all? Memory, within the Southern Panoramas exhibition, surges as a possible way of standing against the official history, that great system manager of memory, endlessly formatting it to serve specific interests.     

Here, memory turns back in on itself and reveals precisely what couldn’t be retained: very singular visions that, on the one hand, demand attention, a document, a record, but which, on the other, also recreate themselves from their own repertoire, giving rise to chinks through which the false can become potential. Everything is cloaked in a fictional tone and, once again, what matters is the dynamic of pitting something against the prevailing visions.

Sometimes encapsulated in the political context, memory appears in the most unusual ways, such as the innumerable issues surrounding tourism, a very peculiar feature of the fleetingness of contemporary life that transforms places and territories, just as it does narratives, people, and habits, into commodities for the superficial and remote knowledge of the intense experience of otherness. The symbolic, asymmetrical exchanges between center and periphery, such a key component of the globalized context, reveal cultural, political, and social questions discernible in the way public space is constituted, its architectonic forms are approached, and its cities designed.     

Some works reveal the power of their local arrangements and complexities. On the one hand, they assume these local specificities, while, on the other, they appropriate everything that is alien, that does not belong, that is not their own. This is the field of tension par excellence, this dynamics between one’s own and not one’s own reveals the gap through which singularities escape. Territory becomes fluid and brings the distant, the different and far-off that much closer. Contemporary processes of moving about the planet, such as mass tourism, migratory flows, and even exile, resignify the most deeply entrenched notions of belonging to a place and lend new contours to identity-building processes.  

We know that the cities of today, all over the world, but particularly the global metropolises of the geopolitical South, with their equally global slumlands, attract immigrants that, unlike the waves of surface tourists, favor a flux of peoples, cultures, and customs, generating hybridizations within contexts beyond the bounds of control and rule of law. The solitude, displacement, and estrangement people experience in these situations served the various approaches and involvements present in these works. The possible vanishing line is perhaps an artificial nature that shows the city to be a discredited model, as so often, and for so many people, it is a space of hostility and confrontation. 

Cities large and small appear in many of the works shown here, which call into question the traditions of their representation and opt for other procedures that assimilate both subjectivity as means toward understanding and tackling the complexities of space, and the coercive force of power and its role in structuring and limiting urban experience. Mythical, magical, and local dimensions take shape, drawing upon history and memory in order to resignify territories and spaces, and our experiences of them.     

Nature takes on new contours in the contemporary world, moving way beyond the modernist project of control and production. It becomes a fictionalizing space, a point of departure for the construction of a possible language. To fictionalize nature becomes one possible way out, and a political one, an alternative that allows new visions to take hold—visions derived from a mythical world, from views that are absolutely singular and personal, or from a critique of the way we see our surroundings. 

Today, spatial forms move within a hybrid arrangement of real and virtual network-terrains wrought of political and economic forces, but also by that which lies semiformed on their fringes. Instead of clearly marked borders, we have the tenuous, shifting frontiers of sensitive new regimes, generating a whole other order of experiences and territorial forms. The city and its architecture have become regimes of representation that serve to highlight the dynamic of these new territories.     

Something else detectable in this sample of southern production is a burning desire to restructure and resignify the canons of art, infusing visions far removed from those of their origins—perhaps a follow-through on the approach taken by Brazilian art during the 1960s—expanding them with new conceptions and possibilities generated by the collision between tradition and the rearticulations of the legacies of art history. Through this gesture we open a Southern eye, which, no longer stunted by isolation, articulates through exchange and confrontation, laying itself down like a lee-line that repositions the very notion of modernity, which it reshapes and retranslates into unusual, creative, and critical forms of dialogue and sharing. As such, coming face to face with Southern Panoramas is a chance to experience the dynamics of this diagram in motion, a diagram that looks to its fluidity for new ways of thinking about and experimenting with contemporary artistic production and its ample potential with a view to recording, however ephemerally or fleetingly, the themes and reflections typical of our time.  

by Eduardo de Jesus, Fernando Oliva, Júlia Rebouças and Solange Farkas - Curatorial Commission | 18th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil

ASSOCIAÇÃO CULTURAL VIDEOBRASIL. 18º Festival Internacional de Arte Contemporânea SESC_Videobrasil. De 6 de novembro de 2013 a 2 de fevereiro de 2014. p. 228-229. São Paulo, SP, 2013.