São Paulo: Survival

I arrived yesterday in São Paulo and i still have to recover from the shock. This is the new Berlin, the new New York, the new ‘i’ve never seen such an exciting place before.’

0aamuseneymey.jpgFernando Llanos, his shirt with dancing skeletons and i went to visit the very disputed 28th edition of the São Paulo Biennale. There are so few artworks to see that the 2nd floor of Oscar Niemeyer‘s Bienal pavilion has been left completely empty (the pleasure of seeing the interior architecture of the splendid building is such a treat i’m not going to complain about the strikingly poor offer of art.)

0a0atoileitl.jpgWomen’s bathroom at the biennale

Instead of the usual plethora of artworks, Curator Ivo Mesquita has organized a cycle of conferences focusing on the place and meaning of biennials not only in São Paulo but also around the world. According to Mesquita, the Biennial model is ill and must be quarantined. This is why the 2008 Biennial lasts only 42 days long, the normal length of a real quarantine. This is a brave and radical gesture, one that certainly gets tongues wagging. Everyone in town seems to have an opinion about the biennial, its future, biennales in other countries, the way this one should have been handled, etc. I think Mesquita marks a point here.


A few hours before hitting the biennale, we were walking along Avenida Paulista and stumbled upon this official statue wearing a life jacket. What looks like a prank has actually received the blessing of the government. Eduardo Srur did a total of 16 similar interventions all over the city, targeting XXth century monuments glorifying the heroes of national history.

The life jacket invite passers-by to get a renewed, fresher look at the city landmarks.

By creating a situation in which the city turns its gaze inwards again, Srur proposes a reflection on the connection between the citizen and city space and the possibility of recreating the collective landscape.