The 22nd Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil | Memory is an Editing Station occupies Sesc 24 de Maio between October 18, 2023 and February 25, 2024, raising contemporary issues in a post-pandemic world, and reflections on the very history of Videobrasil, an event created in 1983 that completes four decades of existence. Inspired by the verse by Waly Salomão (1943–2003) that lends the title to this edition—taken from the poem Carta aberta a John Ashbery [Open letter to John Ashbery]—the exhibition aims at stimulating the audience to look at the production of artists from different generations and geographical origins who question hegemonic conceptions of memory and established notions of time through various artistic strategies.
With artistic direction by Solange Oliveira Farkas, founder of Videobrasil, and curated by Raphael Fonseca, from Brazil, and Renée Akitelek Mboya, from Kenya, Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil’s main show features a set of over 100 works including textiles, painting, photography and a predominant presence of videos, 60 artists and collectives from Africa, the Americas (South, Central and North), Asia, Europe (Eastern and Portugal), the Middle East and Oceania. Differences and similarities between the productions emerge, for instance, in works by artists from Indigenous peoples from different regions of the globe, from Brazil to Australia and New Zealand.
The event will also feature the 40-Year Special exhibition—a space at Sesc 24 de Maio that will be dedicated to the trajectory of Videobrasil while also directly related to the main exhibition. The 40- Year Special, curated by Alessandra Bergamaschi and Eduardo de Jesus, will explore the Videobrasil Historical Collection, with vast archival material and works that cover the entire history of the Biennial, inviting the public to reflect on the importance of video over these four decades.
“We worked to bring the focus back on video to contextualize it within that history. Forty years ago, we brought video as the preferred medium at the time. Today it is ubiquitous, part of everyday life, part of people’s lives. We are talking about screens, about an experience that crosses different visions and experiences because it is present not only in the context of the arts, but also in our daily lives,” says Solange Farkas. And she concludes: “In the spirit of the verse by Waly Salomão that gives the title to this edition, we re-edit our memories in the light of a new present. Looking to Videobrasil’s past reveals, paradoxically, a constant movement of auscultation of futures.”
For Danilo Santos de Miranda, director of Sesc São Paulo, “in this exhibition, the sense of memory is also present at the institutional level, when considering the lasting partnership between Sesc and the Associação Cultural Videobrasil. Since the 1990s, organizations have stimulated research and production by active agents outside the Euro-American power enclaves. This edition serves as an opportunity to evoke the origins of the Biennial, with the space it opens up for exchange between artists from different countries, and between these and the audience, with emphasis on experiences of critical approach of the global culture, with its asymmetries.”
In keeping with its purpose, the 22nd Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil reiterates its mission of generating knowledge and creating relationship networks between artists and audiences from the Global South. With participants from 38 countries, it becomes possible to observe and discuss global contexts, whether from the perspective of those who remained in the South or those who settled—whether by intent or necessity—in major Western centers.
For Solange Farkas, “around the idea of the Global South, an original thought is revealed, which operates by its own parameters, needs and realities, voicing a basic dissidence in relation to the established axes of art. This circuit presents artistic practices that advocate protagonism in the face of what is still hegemonic, standing up to issues ranging from social inequality to racism, from gender issues to the genocide of Indigenous peoples.”
Considering that the geopolitical concept of Global South is not completely static and adapts to specific global contexts, Renée Akitelek Mboya adds: “I think one of the main reasons was to kind of attempt to decentralize the narrative around contemporary art, because most of the discourse that is being developed around contemporary art is being done in White-Western spaces. So it was a way of thinking about conversations that are going on in different parts of the world and specifically centering different narratives.”
Human experience in the midst of a global pandemic is also reflected in part of the works. Despite not being the focus of the edition, it is possible to identify somber themes, such as isolation and melancholy, as well as contents that celebrate life amidst hardship. Regarding the scenography,
Raphael Fonseca declares: “This is not an exhibition separated by distinct and delimited blocks. We aim to explore conversations ranging as much from such topics as languages, as well as geographies and generations.” For him, “It is interesting to think that this edition has a certain disposition to hyper-stimulus, in the sense that we have videos in different formats, such as projections, monitors, tablets, in addition to videowalls, paintings, drawings and performances that are to take place periodically; photography, sculpture, as well as pieces that respond to specific spaces in Sesc 24 de Maio’s architecture.”
Abdessamad El Montassir, Morocco | Abdul Halik Azeez, Sri Lanka | Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Sierra Leone | Adrian Paci, Albania | Agnes Waruguru, Kenya | Ailton Krenak, Brazil | Ali Cherri, Lebanon | Alicja Rogalska, Poland | Andrés Denegri, Argentina | Andro Eradze, Georgia | Anna Hulačová, Czechia | Antonio Pichilla Quiacain, Guatemala | Arturo Kameya, Peru | Bo Wang, China | Brook Andrew, Australia | Camila Freitas, Brazil | Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC), Democratic Republic of the Congo | Doplgenger, Serbia | Eduardo Montelli, Brazil | Euridice Zaituna Kala, Mozambique | FAFSWAG, New Zealand | Froiid, Brazil | Gabriela Pinilla, Colombia | Guadalupe Rosales, USA | Hsu Che-Yu, Taiwan | Isaac Chong Wai, China | Iwantja Arts, Australia | Janaina Wagner, Brazil | Josué Mejía, Mexico | Julia Baumfeld, Brazil | Karel Koplimets, Maido Juss, Estonia | Kent Chan, Singapore | La Chola Poblete, Argentina | Leila Danziger, Brazil | Maisha Maene, Democratic Republic of the Congo | Maksaens Denis, Haiti | Marie-Rose Osta, Lebanon | Maurício Chades, Brazil | Mayana Redin, Brazil | Mella Jaarsma, Indonesia | Moojin Brothers, South Korea | Natalia Lassalle-Morillo, Puerto Rico | Nolan Oswald Dennis, Zambia | Pamela Cevallos, Ecuador | PENG Zuqiang, China | Rodrigo Martins, Brazil | Sada [regroup] with Sajjad Abbas, Bassim Al Shaker, Ali Eyal, Sarah Munaf, Rijin Sahakian, Iraq | Samuel Fosso, Cameroon | Seba Calfuqueo, Chile | Sofia Borges, Portugal | TANG Han, China | Thi My Lien Nguyen, Vietnam/Switzerland | Tirzo Martha, Curaçao | Tromarama, Indonesia | ujjwal kanishka utkarsh, India | Virgílio Neto, Brazil | Vitória Cribb, Brazil | Luciano Figueiredo, Oscar Ramos, Waly Salomão, Brazil | Youqine Lefèvre, China | Zé Carlos Garcia, Brazil
The Biennial 22nd Sesc_Videobrasil will hold a series of public programs, organized by Renée Mboya, to stimulate experiences, exchanges of ideas and content generation—all activities are free and open to the public. Among the guests of the opening week are Ali Cherri, who will present his film “DAM” for the first time in Brazil; Doplgenger, Kent Chan and Thi My Lien Nguyen, who will present performances; a series of artists participating in the Biennial such as Antonio Pichilla Quiacain, Eduardo Montelli, Guadalupe Rosales, Leila Danziger, Maksaens Denis, Natalia Lassalle-Morillo, Froiid, Pamela Cevallos, Tirzo Martha, Vitória Cribb, Youqine Lefèvre, Zé Carlos Garcia; the mediators Paula Nascimento, Siddarthha Perez, Siddhartha Mitter and Ying Kwok; and the special guests Anna Bella Geiger and Vivian Ostrovsky. The full schedule, with the public programs’ dates and times, will be available soon on the Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil website.
Educational actions and accessibility resources
As part of Sesc São Paulo’s and Videobrasil’s commitment to dialogue with the different audiences that will visit the exhibition, the 22nd Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil will feature accessibility resources in the art exhibitions and will promote educational actions aiming at enhancing the visitors’ experience in relation to the themes present in the exhibit.
Among the educational activities planned for the event are: visits for scheduled and non-scheduled groups; educational programs and materials; among other proposals in the field of cultural mediation.
The event will also feature accessibility resources available for autonomous use: a welcome video guide to the exhibition; subtitles for the Deaf and vibroblaster for part of the sound pieces; tactile objects; audio description of tactile objects; tactile floor; and texts printed for dual reading (large Portuguese and Braille). There are also texts translated into the Spanish, French and English languages, as well as wheelchair accessibility through elevators on all floors.
Press release from Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil