The first International Biennial of Contemporary Art of South America (BienalSur) launches this September across 30 cities in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Aníbal Jozami, the director of the biennial, told The Art Newspaper that the inaugural edition aims to “establish a lasting institution that fosters cultural exchange and integration between countries”.
“The biennials that we are now acquainted with were born at different historical times as a consequence of certain social groups attempting to boost their city or region, as was the case with the political leaders of northern Italy after reunification, when they established the Venice Biennale in the late-19th century”, Jozami says. “In view of this context, together with [the artistic director of the biennial] Diana Wechsler and [the biennial’s advisor] Marlise Ilhesca, we felt the need to rethink the current formats—conversely, this biennial does not respond to any city in particular”. Although its main hub is in Buenos Aires, the show extends beyond Argentina—to Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, Paris, Berlin and Tokyo, among other cities.
The show, organised by the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero of Argentina, features 379 projects by renowned and emerging international artists and curators, who submitted their proposals during two open calls for projects, unrestricted to theme. Participants include South American artists like Paulo Nazareth, Cildo Meireles, Iván Navarro, Oscar Muñoz, Voluspa Jarpa and Marcelo Brodsky along with international artists such as Katsuhiko Hibino, Angelika Markul and Abdellah Karroum.
One of the most anticipated works in the show, to be displayed at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires, is a new video installation by the French artist Christian Boltanski called Misterios, comprising sound and visuals recorded by the sea in Bahía Bustamante, in Chubut, Patagonia, during the whales’ annual breeding season. Other highlights in the Argentine capital include a site-specific installation resembling an attic at the national university’s Hotel de Inmigrantes by the Italian artist Tatiana Trouvé, and interventions of the façade of landmark buildings by artists Pedro Cabrita Reis, Bernardi Roig and Marie Orensanz.