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World Biennial Forum

Second World Biennial Forum to be held in November in Brazil
The meeting will bring together 50 representatives of biennials around the world in the Ibirapuera Auditorium

When the São Paulo Biennial was established in 1951, it was only the second art biennial in the world, alongside the Venice Biennale, launched in 1895. Today, there are more than 150 contemporary art biennials around the world, connected to one another through the Biennial Foundation, an independent organization, which has been staging the World Biennial Forum since 2012. This year, the second edition of the meeting is to be held in São Paulo between 26 and 30 November, in partnership with ICCo – Institute for Contemporary Culture and Fundação Bienal de São Paulo. For the occasion, more than 50 representatives of biennials will meet in the Ibirapuera Auditorium to share experiences and to discuss issues in the field.

The Forum will look at biennials from the point of view of the Southern Hemisphere, focusing on the cities of Dakar (Senegal), Istanbul (Turkey), Jakarta (Indonesia) and São Paulo itself. These four major cities have been staging biennials for at least 20 years and have been constantly developing and introducing new concepts and structures.

The first 2012 edition of the World Biennial Forum took place in South Korea, at the same time as the 9th Gwangju Biennial, one of the most important in the world, which began with the democratization of the country after a bloody massacre in 1980. Instead of a conventional memorial, the government preferred to establish the Biennial to pay homage to the national heroes. According to Daniel Rangel, artistic director of the ICCo, “the first Forum aimed to engage in relevant discussion and to create extremely valuable interconnections between the biennial events and all involved. Bringing the event to São Paulo is an important way of generating an atmosphere in which people can learn, share, and develop global practices.”

The Forum, which is sponsored by Itaú Bank, will take place at the same time as the 31st São Paulo Biennial and its program has been drawn up by the latter’s team of curators, Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente, Oren Sagiv, Benjamin Seroussi and Luiza Proença. Luis Terepins, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, believes that the Biennial should take on the challenge of hosting WBF 2, “because its role is to be constantly seeking out new models, proposals and ways of reflecting on the art world”.

The event will open on the 26th, with a talk by Peter Osborne, director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at the University of Kingston, in London, who will discuss the format of the biennial in the contemporary world.

On the 27th and 28th, four roundtable discussions will be held. These are open to a potential audience of 650 free of charge. These will be interspersed with workshops for representatives of the biennials, who, on the 29th and 30th, will visit museums, galleries, studios and cultural centers in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Inhotim (Minas Gerais).



The WBF’s main sponsor is the Itaú Bank by means of Ministério da Cultura and the Lei Federal de Incentivo à Cultura. It is also sponsored by CESP – Companhia de Energia de São Paulo by means of the Secretaria de Estado da Cultura de São Paulo.

The event is also supported by Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Prefeitura de São Paulo, Secretarias da Cultura e do Verde e Meio Ambiente do Município de São Paulo, Auditório Ibirapuera, Itaú Cultural, IFA – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Arts Council, British Council, IBA – International Biennial Association, Goethe-Institut and the Embassy of Norway in Brazil.

This post is also available in: Spanish