Verónica Abdala (ARG), Soraya Abu Naba’a (DOM), Natalia Blanc (ARG), Alex Brahim (COL/ESP), Benedetta Casini (ITA), Laurent Grasso (FRA), Aníbal Jozami (ARG), João Kulcsár (BRA), Georges Petitjean (BEL), Bartolomeo Pietromarchi (ITA), Philippe Régnier (FRA), Betsabée Romero (MEX) y Diana Wechsler (ARG)
Art has once again revealed its enormous potential to reflect upon, question and transform ourselves in a new edition of Sur Global, the reflection platform of BIENALSUR. Held over two days, the meeting gathered international guests, who addressed topics such as the visual traditions related to aboriginal peoples and ancestral rites, inclusive projects in art spaces, and the compelling cultural revolution entailed in artificial intelligence.
At the beginning of the first day, Belgian curator Georges Petitjean, a specialist in contemporary Australian aboriginal art, said: “Art has always been part of aboriginal culture. Through art, they have a national and international voice, and it is actually through art that they promote and strengthen their culture”.
“Art is also a way to transmit knowledge from one generation to another”, pointed out Petitjean in the course of the dialogue “Visual traditions”, which he held with Aníbal Jozami, General Director of BIENALSUR, and French artist Laurent Grasso, who in turn discussed an artistic project based on an aboriginal ancestral site, through which he sought to merge reality, beliefs and science.
As part of the axis “Art and inclusion”, Brazilian curator João Kulcsár – in a dialogue with journalist Natalia Blanc – referred to the Brazilian educational project of Visual Literacy, which he coordinates. The project seeks to shed light on the meanings at stake when blind people approach contemporary art.
At the end of the first day, Italian curator Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, Director of the MAXXI (National Museum of Art of the 21st Century) of Rome, reflected upon the significant cultural revolution entailed in the advances of artificial intelligence. He spoke about the exhibition “Low form. Imaginaries and visions in the era of artificial intelligence”, which gathers pieces by contemporary artists in the institution that he directs.
“The categories underlying our experiences as human beings are questioned again. It is imperative to find tools to manage this transformation so as not to be swept away by this technological wave, as it is impossible to resist its strength. And this exhibition aims to show and visualize what is happening. It also raises questions and underscores concepts to fine-tune tools to deal with it. We don’t leave the show unscathed, though art helps us to think about this issue and see it from a wider and deeper perspective. It is through art that we might be able to face this transformation”, asserted Pietromarchi in a dialogue with Benedetta Casini, a BIENALSUR curator.
Visual traditions were also the axis of the debate on the second day, featuring Mexican artist Betsabée Romero and American Soraya Abu Naba'a, of Palestinian and Dominican descent. Both artists participated in a dialogue with Diana Wechsler, Artistic and Academic Director of BIENALSUR, in which they referred to their projects and works concerning rites and ceremonies, identity, the body, and territorial and symbolic borders.
Additionally, Romero spoke about his work, which will be part of BIENALSUR 2019 and displayed outdoors in the Recoleta district: an army of a hundred toy horses made of mud, with the contribution of local pottery students. This work seeks to stress the idea of the ludic as well as a strong local sculptural tradition.
Borders had a leading role again in the presentation of Colombian curator Alex Brahim - in a dialogue with journalist Verónica Abdala -, who addressed aspects of the project Together Apart, conducted in 2017 as part of BIENALSUR in the border city of Cucuta, with the aim of highlighting a common identity among people from diverse cultures.
The project, to be featured again in the 2019 edition of the biennial, will gather art exhibitions, conferences and cultural events. It seeks to “discuss border issues in the world and to promote interactions through dialogues and artistic works”. “Art can serve as the means of a different narrative”, stated Brahim.
Finally, Aníbal and Diana offered details of the 2019 biennial, which will officially open on May 20th in the “south of the south”: the Province of Tierra del Fuego. Other openings will then take place: on May 25th in the Province of Tucumán; on June 5th and 6th in Rosario; on June 8th in Switzerland; on June 12th in the Province of Córdoba; and from June 24th to 29th in numerous spaces in the City of Buenos Aires, to reach out to the whole world later.
“At BIENALSUR we aim to rethink the rules. It has an open, mobile format with a polyphonic dynamics that seeks to reflect upon ourselves collectively”, pointed out Wechsler in a dialogue featuring the participation of Philippe Régnier (France), Chief Editor of The Art Newspaper Daily, with headquarters in Paris.
“BIENALSUR is absolutely different; it has an unprecedented, global dimension; it expands across diverse continents in a very generous manner. It has an epicentre, the Old Immigrants’ Hotel, and at the same time it is a rhizomatic biennial that travels to numerous places, whose logic is not only artistic, but also open to many other aspects of society, which is very important to give visibility to all those artists”, concluded Régnier.