The Bienal de São Paulo is celebrating its 70th anniversary in style. The art event is looking back on its rich history through a series of digital initiatives, including a podcast, taking listeners behind the scenes of the world's second-oldest art biennial, after the Venice Biennale.
For the first episode of "Bienal, 70 anos," the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo looks back at the origins of the event and the role played by Ciccillo Matarazzo. The Italian-Brazilian industrialist used his family fortune to finance the cultural scene in São Paulo, and inaugurated the first edition of the biennial in 1951. More than 8.5 million art lovers have since participated in the annual show.
Each of the eight first episodes of "Bienal, 70 anos" will focus on a specific decade between 1950 and 2021, while the last two episodes of the podcast will offer bonus content. All will be presented by the Brazilian actress and filmmaker, Marina Person, with a soundtrack by Fernando Cespedes.
Listeners will be able to discover interviews with major names in contemporary art, such as Ivo Mesquita, Agnaldo Farias, Claudio Tozzi, Aracy Amaral and Sheila Leirner. Over the past seven decades, the Bienal de São Paulo has helped raise the profile of Brazilian artists such as Lygia Pape, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark.
Honoring a diverse heritage
"The 70th anniversary of the Bienal de São Paulo is a time for the celebration of all Brazilian culture. The holding of the first Bienal in 1951 forever changed Brazil's relationship with contemporary art and with the international circuit. Now, 70 years later, we want to honor this legacy, consolidating and disseminating this memory to the public, both to the art lovers already familiar with this history as well as to those who want to know more about the Bienal," explains José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo.
Episodes of the Bienal de São Paulo commemorative podcast will be published every Saturday until September 4, when the 34th edition of the art biennial opens, running until December 5 in the Brazilian city. The event, titled "Faz Escuro Mas Eu Canto" [Though It's Dark, Still I Sing], was scheduled to take place last year but was postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
More than 90 artists and collectives will participate in this latest edition, which is one of the most diverse ever staged. Indeed, for the first time in the history of the biennial, nine indigenous artists will exhibit their work. "Since its conception, and with an even greater sense of urgency after the developments in recent months, the 34th Bienal seeks to establish bridges between artworks and artists that reflect multiple cosmovisions, cultures and historical moments,” said Jacopo Crivelli Visconti, the 34th Bienal's chief curator.