The 6th Mercosul Biennial has announced the artists for this edition of the exhibition, which runs from September 1 to November 18, 2007. The full list was presented during the open lecture by the Spanish chief curator, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro and three of the show’s six other curators, Alejandro Cesarco, Moacir dos Anjos and Ticio Escobar, on May 2, in the atrium of Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre.

The 6th Mercosul Biennial, will involve 67 artists from 23 countries, whose works will be shown in six exhibitions – three solo exhibitions and group shows entitled Free Zone, Three Frontiers and Conversations. Around 250 works have already been confirmed for the exhibition.

The exhibition runs for 79 days and will be open free of charge, seven days per week, increasing visiting opportunities by 48% over the previous edition. Soon after the 6th Biennial closes, the Mercosul Biennial Foundation will present its results and accounts to the community. The Mercosul Biennial Foundation also intends to show a significant proportion of the works in touring exhibitions after the Biennial closes in Porto Alegre. The Touring Shows should visit the Mercosul capitals of Buenos Aires/Argentina, Montevideo/Uruguay, Asuncion/Paraguay, Santiago/Chile, and other cities in Brazil. The Touring project aims to take the Biennial to Mercosul, expanding its visibility to a public that would otherwise be unable to see the show.

The works in 6th edition of the Mercosul Visual Arts Biennial will be shown in three exhibition spaces. The Free Zone, Conversations and Three Frontiers exhibitions will be shown in the Quayside warehouses. MARGS – the Rio Grande do Sul Museum of Art will show the solo shows by Francisco Matto and Öyvind Fahlström. Santander Cultural has been chosen for the solo show by Jorge Macchi. The museography project should be designed in May and installation of Biennial is expected to start in July.

The Curatorial Project

The chief curator intends to renew the event and consolidate the success of the five previous editions by not only changing the curatorship model but also by intensifying the process of internationalizing the show and activating an education programme throughout its entire development. The 5 previous editions have been based on the idea of national representations, and curatorship is now being carried out by a group of curators responsible for specific projects, coordinated by the chief curator.

A necessary step on the way to valuing a cultural geography created from the voice of the artist is seen to be the breaking of geopolitical boundaries. The curatorial project for the 6th Mercosul Biennial is therefore inspired by the metaphor of the Third Shore of the River, an image taken from the famous story by Guimarães Rosa, which has been adopted for the 6th Mercosul Biennial. The chief curator, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, says that the third shore symbolizes a change in perspectives. It emphasizes the possibility of creating a third way of perceiving reality, breaking with the dualities that define it and restrict it – nationalism and globalisation, right and left, good and bad, figuration and abstraction, for example. The third shore is also a metaphor for the regional geography, defined by river borders, and alludes to the antagonism between closed regionalism and unbounded globalisation. “In political terms, almost all the countries in Mercosul are involved in some kind of ‘third way’ experiment between socialism and market economics. In the 6th Mercosul Biennial the emphasis will be on artists who have created their own spaces within the established system,” explains Pérez-Barreiro. The image of the third shore also indicates one of the methodological principals for curating the exhibition: a dialogue between two subjects with different experiences, which creates a third reality.

The chief curator also stresses that, as it has a metaphor instead of a defined theme, this edition of the Biennial is a Mercosul look onto the world, from the regional to the global. “It’s a Biennial made from here, in Mercosul, but not closed in upon itself,” he says. Pérez-Barreiro says that the third shore is also a position to be adopted when dealing with the relationship between art and the public: “dialogue should be a great generator of alternatives, the fruit of constant negotiation between artist and art, object and spectator, and spectator with the surroundings.” An integrated team of curators – no longer curators of national representations – therefore articulates the view of Mercosul upon the world and the world on Mercosul. “All the curators have a direct relationship with Mercosul countries, and at the same time some form of international experience or activity. They all represent different voices, and this Biennial accepts and promotes diversity and freedom of expression,” he argues.

In addition to the exhibitions, the 6th edition of the Mercosul Biennial lays emphasis on the actions of the education programme, a cornerstone of this edition. The curatorial project, for example, has been fully thought out based on the education proposals for this edition. Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro says that one of the distinctive features of this edition is the work being proposed by the 6th Mercosul Biennial’s education curator, Luis Camnitzer. Camnitzer has proposed an innovative reconfiguration of the education programme for the 6th Mercosul Biennial, from its targets to its implementation. He believes the spectator should be seen as a creative person and not as a mere passive receptor of information. The education process began in 2006 and envisages a series of actions throughout 2007. These actions encompass the involvement of teachers from the private and public teaching networks, continuing into students’ visits to the exhibition; organizing a cycle of conferences and round-tables; inserting the 6th Mercosul Biennial into the Rio Grande do Sul Public Teaching Calendar; organizing art-education symposiums – as happened in April with more than 1400 participants – and workshops and courses with teachers from the interior of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina; organizing the Mediator-training course; producing and distributing Educational Material to public and private teaching institutions; free transport for up to 240,000 pupils from state schools and care institutions; and the Dialogues project – which involves the local arts community. During the exhibition visitors will have access to an education space on the Quayside, with a teachers’ room, library and internet access, workshop rooms and rooms for displaying the work produced during the education project. 20 education stations will also be created to promote interaction between visitors and the artists.

Curators for the 6th Mercosul Biennial

Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro – Chief Curator – Doctor in Art History and Theory, curator of Latin American Art at the University of Texas Blanton Museum of Art in Austin. Spanish, he lives in Austin, Texas.
Luis Camnitzer – Education Curator – Uruguayan Artist and Professor Emeritus at New York State University, living in New York (NY).
Alejandro Cesarco – Curator of Conversations show – Uruguayan artist and independent curator, he lives in New York (NY).
Inés Katzenstein – Curator of the Free Zone show – Argentinean curator and art historian, curator of Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art (MALBA), living in Buenos Aires.
Luis Enrique Perez Oramas – Curator of the Free Zone show – Venezuelan curator and art historian, curator of Latin American Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), living in New York. Moacir dos Anjos – Curator of the Free Zone show – Brazilian curator and researcher, living in Recife.
Ticio Escobar – Curator of the Three Frontiers show – Paraguayan curator and art critic, director of the Museo del Barro / Visual Arts Centre, living in Asuncion.

Solo Exhibitions

Curator: Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro
The chief curator has selected names from different periods in the history of Latin American art for the solo exhibitions at the 6th Mercosul Biennial. These exhibitions replace the artist of honour exhibitions that were held up to the 5 th Mercosul Biennial and represent contemporary work, influences from the sixties and modernism. Pérez-Barreiro explains the change: “The tradition of the artist of honour is important, and I think it should be preserved in some way. But as the central metaphor for this Biennial is the third shore, three artists of different nationalities and generations were chosen.”

Exhibitions:

  • Jorge Macchi – Argentina One of the most important and well-known contemporary artists of today. This solo show will offer the first overall view of his career on the American continent. Macchi’s work is characterised by his subtle meditations on the poetic possibilities of everyday life. Macchi works with mundane objects in a variety of media, including installation, video, collage and photography. He showed in the 4 th Mercosul Biennial. 70 works will come to the Porto Alegre exhibition, including DVS, installations, photographs, drawings, prints and other works in a range of mixed media. Showing at Santander Cultural.
  • Öyvind Fahlström – (São Paulo, 1928 – Stockholm, 1976) – Brazil The Brazilian-Swedish artist was a key figure on the art scene in the 1960s. This show at the 6th Mercosul Biennial will be the first exhibition in Brazil of the work of Öyvind Fahlström, who is the only Brazilian artist to have been honoured with solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA), the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. The Fahlström: Maps exhibition, with 19 of the artist’s prints, will show his complete graphic works as an international innovator in this medium. Showing at MARGS.
  • Francisco Matto – (1911 – 1995) – Uruguay One of the most important participants at the Torres García Studio in Uruguay, the artist’s work displays strong evidence of his profound interest in pre-Columbian cultures, which led him to form his own collection of pre-Hispanic art. Matto represents one of the most original paths of the teachings of Torres García’s Constructive Universalism, achieving perfect union between ancient art and contemporary languages. He showed in the 1 st Mercosul Biennial. This show at the 6th Mercosul Biennial is a retrospective with 94 works, including paintings on canvas and wood, and wood sculpture. Showing at MARGS.

Three Frontiers

Three Frontiers is an international artists’ residency programme in the Mercosul Triple Frontier Zone – Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil, based on the central rationale of the curatorial project for this sixth edition. The border region between Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil is defined by a river frontier, which again refers to the Third Shore of the River, and is also a region of economic, cultural, political and linguistic flux. Following this thread, the co-curator of the Three Frontiers project, the art critic and director of the Museo del Barro-Visual Arts Centre in Asuncion, Paraguay, Ticio Escobar, proposes that this project should question the geographical-cultural boundaries of the countries that make up the Common Market of the South. Four artists have therefore been invited to create work to be shown at the Mercosul Biennial.

Curatorial team: Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro and Ticio Escobar. Artists: Aníbal López – Guatemala, Daniel Bozhkov – Bulgaria/USA, Minerva Cuevas – Mexico and Jaime Gili – Venezuela/United Kingdom

Aníbal López – López is following the route of contraband from the Triple Frontier (Brazil/Argentina/Paraguay) to Porto Alegre. He starts by throwing boxes into the river at the point of origin, just like the smugglers (except that his boxes are empty). Lopez is, in a way, asserting the circulatory map of the illegal market as a directional system and abstracts it by removing its initial function. He thus creates a parallel with ant trails or the configuration of seasonal migratory routes of birds. Aníbal has said of his experience in the Triple Frontier zone that he was very surprised by the social conflict, which was so different but no less important than that in his own country: “It’s a very rich experience, making me see things that I didn’t know existed. For example, I’ve discovered that there are no borders in this region. You just have to look at the movement of people walking freely into any of the countries without showing entry visas, without any kind of control.”

Daniel Bozhkov – Bozhkov is interested in the boundary between the production and consumption of craft. He has proposed to learn how to carve little animal sculptures for his project, like those made by Guarani Indians. The Indians carve these animals to ask forgiveness for killing them during the hunt. Bozhkov wishes to enter into the production from the point of view of the consumer of these sculptures, instead of from the point of view of the consumer of the hunted product. It is a way of asking forgiveness of the object bought on the tourist trail, and not of the animal that was the original source of the sculpture.

Jaime Gili – organizes and codifies anonymous contributions to help to transform them into collective expression. Examples include a typographic font made with letters appropriated from graffiti, and the development of a collective logo for motorcycle taxis – the most common form of transport in the triple frontier zone – based on a summary of their individual decorations. Starting from the activity at the Ponte de Amizade, which divides the cities of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and Ciudade de Leste in Paraguay, the artist researched and invented a font called Triple Font, based on lettering on the three sides of the frontier. For another part of the project he has created and produced a series of stickers which are distributed free to the motorcycle-taxis working transporting people and goods in the region. Another stage is the photographic recording of the motorcyclists’ use and adaptation of the material and the font found in the lettering. Uniting the two parts of the project, the artist will show a wall display with the Triple Font he has created and about a hundred photos of the motorcycle taxis at the 6th Mercosul Biennial. Jaime Gili’s font will also be available for use by downloading from the internet.

Minerva Cuevas – work in progress

Free Zone

The Free Zone project is based on criteria of quality and relevance. The curators – Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Inés Katzenstein, Moacir dos Anjos and Luis Enrique Perez Oramas – have been invited to present recently produced artworks which they consider the most significant today. The project emphasizes freedom of criteria, as the title itself indicates – a zone without limits of format, geography or culture for the curator.

Curatorial team: Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, Inés Katzenstein, Luis Enrique Perez Oramas and Moacir dos Anjos

Artists – Curated by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro: Dario Robleto – USA, Steve Roden – USA, Beth Campbell – USA, Harrell Fletcher – USA, Yoshua Okon – Mexico, Chiho Aoshima – Japan and William Kentridge – South Africa

Artists – Curated by Inés Katzenstein: M7red – A group consisting of Mauricio Corbalan and Pio Torroja – Argentina and Leopoldo Estol – Argentina, Estol is also in the Conversations /Core 3 show and at 25 is the youngest artist in this Biennial.

Artists – Curated by Luis Enrique Perez Oramas: Alejandro Otero (1921-1990) – Venezuela, Jose Gabriel Fernandez – Venezuela, Juan Araujo – Venezuela, Bárbaro Rivas (1893-1967) – Venezuela, Muu Blanco – Venezuela and Miguel Amat – Venezuela.

Artists – Curated by Moacir dos Anjos: Rivane Neuenschwander – Brazil, Nelson Leirner – Brazil, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva – Portugal, Steve McQueen – England, Cildo Meireles – Brazil and Francis Alÿs – Belgium/Cuauhtemoc Medina – Mexico/Rafael Ortega – Mexico (joint work)