Exhibitions, film programs, performances and public programs
In its 19th edition, set to take place from October 6 to December 6, 2015 in São Paulo, Brazil, the Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil takes it proposal to the extreme by making Southern Panoramas the core of its entire programming. The global South and its myriad issues – concerning diasporas, hybrid identities, migration flows and travels, personal accounts, memories, isolation, the social fabric, and insularity – have inspired and set the parameters for the Curatorial Committee to select artworks and art projects, as well as oriented the curating of all of the Festival’s exhibitions, public programs, and publications.
A total of 62 artists and groups from 27 countries are featured in the three exhibitions of the 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil | Southern Panoramas; five of them are guest artists and 57 were selected via two open calls (for artworks and for projects to be commissioned by the Festival, a new feature of this edition). Besides the exhibitions, the Festival will include film programs, performances, artist residencies, public programs activities, educational actions, and publication launches.
The official opening of the 19th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil | Southern Panoramas will take place on October 6 at 8pm at Sesc Pompeia, the primary venue of the 19th Festival and of the event’s past few editions. At Sesc Pompeia’s Galpão area, Abdoulaye Konaté (Mali), Gabriel Abrantes (Portugal), Rodrigo Matheus (Brazil), Sônia Gomes (Brazil), and Yto Barrada (Morocco/France) will participate in the Festival’s first collective exhibit of guest artists with landmark careers in the global South.
The Southern Panoramas | Guest Artists exhibition attests to the power of production from this geopolitical area. The aftermath of imperialism and colonialism; the building of identity; artisanry made current and transplanted into the contemporary art context; global transits; and the nature-culture relation are some of the subjects addressed by featured artworks, through particular life experiences and languages.
Striking commentaries on globally relevant political and environmental issues, coupled with the artisanal, aesthetical traditions of Mali, have made Abdoulaye Konaté’s work central to the 19th Festival and to the choice of other guest artists. Konaté presents a set of three large tapestries inspired by his encounter, during a trip to Brazil in late 2014, with a guarani Indigenous tribe in Ubatuba, along São Paulo’s north coast.
Sônia Gomes creates a brand new large-scale piece combining past works with complex three-dimensional objects built from twisted up fabrics, embroideries, and juxtapositions. Born in the city of Caetanópolis, a major textile hub in Minas Gerais, the artist’s work translates the popular influence of her maternal grandmother and the scholarly influence of her paternal family. Gomes builds a private cosmos connected with family memory, racial identity and social history, all the while discussing the possibilities of sculpture.
Portugal’s Gabriel Abrantes subverts and problematizes Hollywood conventions as he transposes them into the reality of territories where, according to the artist, “the future is being outlined”. His films discuss the effects of colonialism, of globalization and the cultural and sexual identities. Abrantes is featured with Liberdade (2011), a short film shot in Angola that suggests a metaphor for massive Chinese immigration to the country. Additionally, a Film Program by Abrantes will be shown at Sesc Pompeia’s Teatro.
In stark contrast with the organic craftsmanship explored by Konaté and Gomes, the piece by the São Paulo artist Rodrigo Matheus requires heavy engineering to hoist barrels and build a structure of swings, weights, and counterweights. The creation dynamically occupies the space at Sesc Pompeia’s Galpão, hurling audiences into an instability zone with potential parallels in the provisional economic and social ties that underpin an inconsistent contemporary political debate.
The subjects of choice of Yto Barrada, the French-born artist of Moroccan descent, include representational dynamics and the impact of image circulation on contemporary identity building. Wallpaper Tangier (2001), featured in the 19thFestival, is paradigmatic: the piece’s square shape questions the typical visual language of landscapes, which consists of rectangular, horizontal framing; instead of a scene, the center is a junction of two parts, where a laceration emerges.
Sesc Pompeia presents 56 artworks by 53 artists from 22 countries, selected through open call. At Sesc Pompeia’s Convivência area, the Southern Panoramas | Selected works exhibition will present videos, video installations, photographs, prints, paintings, performances, and installations. The exhibition design was created by architect André Vainer so that the audience can perceive commonalities between the artworks as they explore the show. Some pieces are predominantly political. Others deal with geographical displacement, diaspora, and belonging. The fictional gesture (towards science fiction) is also there, as is the debate about the perception of human scale in the face of nature or of major power systems.
Retaining one of the features that ensures the Festival’s uniqueness in the contemporary art world, the event offers eleven prizes to the artists shortlisted from the open call for artworks.
The Southern Panoramas | Commissioned Projects exhibition, set to open on October 8, 7pm at Galpão_VB, is the outcome of a new Festival action, beginning in this edition, whose purpose is to commission and keep track of production of artworks by young artists. Carlos Monroy (Colombia), Cristiano Lenhardt (Brazil), Keli-Safia Maksud (Kenya), and Ting-Ting Cheng (Taiwan) have been selected by the 19th Festival’s curators, who will follow up with the development of their projects.
Colombia’s Carlos Monroy will participate with Llorando se foi. O museu da lambada.
In memoriam de Francisco "Chico" Oliveira, which connects two phenomena from 1980s Brazil: the rise of the lambada dance and music style, as well as its effects upon the building of national identity, and the advent and exponential growth of Bolivian immigration to São Paulo. In Superquadra-Sací, a film by the Brazilian Cristiano Lenhardt, national Indigenous roots converge with the “cityscape,” the urban scenery, with throwbacks to Brazilian modernism. Mitumba, by Keli-Safia Maksud, from Kenya, explores the ties between the history of soap in the United Kingdom and African fabrics in Victorian-era Netherlands. The artist discusses the image of racial hygiene and African identity through textiles viewed globally as an authentic expression of Africa. The Atlas of Places do not exist, a project by Taiwan’s Ting-Ting Cheng, is about a library containing hundreds of books on non-existent places, a questioning of borders and definitions of reality.
The exhibiting of commissioned projects will mark the opening of Galpão_VB, the new headquarters of Associação Cultural Videobrasil, designed to house permanent Videobrasil Collection activation actions and to developing new creative and reflective processes. Galpão_VB will promote exhibitions, film programs, seminars, artist residencies, creative labs, workshops, and meetings. The audience will also gain access to the Video Library (of nearly 1,300 Videobrasil Collection pieces, including videos from previous Festival editions, Videobrasil Authors Collection documentaries, and footage of performances) and to a reading room specializing in visual arts and media art, currently spanning 3,200 publications. The project by architect Gui Paoliello also features a cafeteria and a shop open to the public. With 800m2, Galpão_VB will be the first space dedicated to cultural programming in the Vila Leopoldina district.
On October 7, at 6pm, the 19th Festival’s Film Programs will open at Sesc Pompeia’s Teatro, featuring eleven artworks selected through open call, divided into three programs arranged into conceptual sections: “Landscapes and territories,” “Real and surreal,” and “Frictions,” plus a one-off cine-performance in the opening evening. In addition to the Film Programs | Selected Works, the 19thFestival will feature the Film Program | Gabriel Abrantes, devoted to the guest artist’s work.
From October 7 to 10, the 19th Festival’s Opening Week, special Film Programs sessions will run at Sesc Pompeia’s Teatro. From October 13 on, the films will show at new hours at Sesc’s Teatro and Galpão_VB.
Besides the videos, video installations, photographs, prints, paintings, and installations in the Southern Panoramas | Selected Works exhibit, the 19thFestival will feature three performances by artists and groups selected through the open call for artwork entries. Two of them will be enacted at Sesc Pompeia’s Convivência area: Oiko-nomic Threads, by Greece’s Marinos Koutsomichalis, Maria Varela and Afroditi Psarra; and Fancy em Pyetà, segundo ato, by Fancy Violence (the alter ego of the Brazilian artist Rodolpho Parigi). The third performance, Leticia Ramos’ VOSTOK _cineperformance, will be presented at Sesc Pompeia’s Teatro.
The Public Programs provide an environment for debate within the 19th Festival, allowing curatorial inquiries to develop through audience interaction. This direct channel with viewers will branch out into meetings and conversations with artists, curators and guests, a seminar, workshops, and mediated actions. These multidisciplinary actions will rearrange the exhibition spaces as places for reflection and exchange that go beyond the art field to converse transversally with other fields of knowledge. Coordinated by Thereza Farkas, Videobrasil’s programming director, the Public Programs are divided into Meetings and Conversations, a Seminar and Workshops.
The Meetings and Conversations will include a tour guided by guest artist Rodrigo Matheus, a meeting with the Tilting Axis discussion platform (which connects Caribbean artists and art-oriented professionals and organizations with their counterparts from around the world), a meeting with delegates from Videobrasil Residency Program partner organizations, and readings of portfolios with the artists Clara Ianni, Débora Bolsoni, Felipe Bittencourt and Rodolpho Parigi, in collaboration with educators from the Zebra5 Jogo e Arte collective.
In October, the four sessions of the Seminar Lugares e sentidos na arte: debates a partir do Sul (Places and meanings of art: debates from the South) will expand upon key issues outlined by the 19th Festival’s exhibitions. In connection with the Southern Observatory study and debate program, initiated in May 2015 in partnership with Goethe-Institut in São Paulo, the Seminar curated by Sabrina Moura will discuss the expansion of art as a knowledge-production field, featuring scholars, writers, and artists. These discussions are also the focus of Southern Panoramas | Readings, a book also organized by Sabrina Moura, with collaborations from Achille Mbembe, Arjun Appadurai, Artur Barrio, Cildo Meireles, Geeta Kapur, Jean & John Comaroff, Joaquín Torres Garcia, José Rabasa, and Milton Santos, among others.
The Workshops, hosted by Zebra5 Jogo e Arte alongside participating artists, represent new possibilities of interpretation and contact with the artists and their poetics. In his workshop on monotypes, Abdoulaye Konaté will introduce the public to traditional art languages from Mali; Ting-Ting Cheng will invite visitors to explore books, stories and images in order to build a conceptual and imagistic repertoire of the place the South occupies; Carlos Monroy proposes an experience focusing on the lambada dance and music style and evokes elements of memory to reflect about origin, cultural miscegenation, and folklore building. Zebra5 will also offer mediated actions and workshops for the duration of the exhibition.