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UAL Research Online

The bienal de São Paulo: unseen/undone (1969—1981)

Whitelegg, Isobel (2009) The bienal de São Paulo: unseen/undone (1969—1981). Afterall (22). pp. 106-113. ISSN 14654253

Type of Research: Article
Creators: Whitelegg, Isobel

As Vilém Flusser put it in 1969, the Bienal de São Paulo is a stubborn fact.Its recurrence since the first edition in 1951 lends it a semblance of perpetuity, and it is now a cultural event that might be described in terms of 'always' - as in: 'São Paulo's biennale has always been intended to indicate Brazil's competent modernism to an international clientele, and to energise local developments by injections of the international.' However, underlying this stubborn fact is a series of structurally discontinuous exhibitions, particularly during the 1970s, after the boycott of the 10th edition in 1969, and in the context of Emílio Garrastazu Médici's military government (1969-74), which brought with it an acceleration of repressive means of state control such as censorship, arbitrary arrest and torture. The boycott was supported by prominent Brazilian artists and writers, and gained solidarity in Europe and later in the USA. By 1971 the boycott had successfully appropriated the exhibition's international prestige, or, rather, participating in the Bienal, co-sponsored by Brazil's right-wing military regime, had come to be seen as a dubious ambition for any politically engaged artist. The boycotted Bienal remains a landmark within the event's history. But by the mid- 1970s the once focused, artist-led boycott lost much of its attention and participation. The five editions that followed received little coverage in the international press, and their history hasn't been widely examined. As a consequence of this lapse in critical attention, the 16th edition of 1981, which was curated by Walter Zanini and received remarkable critical attention, may seem to have sprung ex nihilo, without relation to what took place in the decade preceding it.

Official Website: http://www.afterall.org/journal/issue.22/the.bienal.de.so.paulo.unseenundone.19691981
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Central Saint Martins
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Research Centres/Networks > Transnational Art Identity and Nation (TrAIN)
Date: 2009
Projects or Series: Research Outputs Review (April 2010 - April 2011)
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2012 11:55
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2015 10:44
Item ID: 2797
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/2797

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