Promises: A Curatorial Statement
The curatorial proposal for the Ninth Edition of the Mercosul Biennial conceptually focuses on the interaction between nature and culture, and the ways in which visual artists address unknown, unpredictable and seemingly uncontrollable phenomenon. The curatorial endeavor of the Mercosul Biennial considers the natural causes and effects that propel human travel and social displacement, technological advancement and world development, vertical expansions in space and transversal explorations through time. It involves looking at the affections these movements inflect, the affects that manifest. It entails dwelling, mining, investigating and exploring what is underneath and above the social realm.
The promise is to articulate ontological and technological questions through artistic practice, object making and experience nodes.
The participating artists of the Mercosul Biennial are considered visionaries of the past, present and future. Considering this, the curatorial proposal is organized in three approaches to analyze contemporary artistic practices. These approaches consider the figure of the artist and intellectual as a collaborator, a mediator or an outcast. In each approach, they are seen as producers: makers of images, objects, stories, and situations; creators even of time and space, and, on certain occasions, of the decidedly nothing. An approach openly contingent to atmospheric disturbances, this process involves constant dialogues about what is imagined and real, what is seen and invisible, what is tenuous and palpable.
The promise is to identify, propose and repurpose changing belief systems and appraisals of innovations.
The exhibitions and programs of the Mercosul Biennial give attention to existing and imagined work cultures-including aspects of seclusion and openness, as well as privacy or publicity-in processes involving the experimentation of art as well as technology. Likewise, it looks at the presentation mechanisms and spatial environments in which insights and findings are created and publicly shared. Aside from assessing processes, it values attempts at sustainability and also acknowledges imminent entropy. In doing so, the curatorial approaches art and ideas as portals, tools and triggers-whether functional or useless-to experience possibly yet unacknowledged natural and cultural manifestations.
The promise is to encounter natural resources and material cultural in a new light, and to speculate on the grounds that have marked distinctions between discovery and invention.
Sofía Hernandez Chong Cuy
Project: The 9th Mercosul Biennial
The public iterations of the Mercosul Biennial includes new art commissions involving collaborations between artists and companies in the Mercosul region; exhibitions of contemporary art, featuring artworks by emerging and seminal artists; a series of publications; a dynamic mediation program that can pedagogically contribute to the understanding of the Mercosul Biennial, as well as increasing public understanding of the interactions between nature and culture as these have been perceived scientifically and artistically throughout time; and, finally, a strategic promotional program for the Mercosul Biennial that reflects on the historical changes in communication technology throughout centuries.
The Mercosul Biennial will consist of several concurrent, multi-sited art exhibitions taking place in different venues in Porto Alegre, Brazil during September – November 2013. Each of the exhibitions will have a distinct sensibility, if sometimes purposefully contradictory – experimental and archival, conceptual and playful, innovative and historic – complementing each other to provide a richer public experience of contemporary art. The Mercosul Biennial will bring together both existing and newly commissioned artworks by approximately 90 national and international artists. The main venues contemplated for the 9th Mercosul Biennial include: Usina do Gasômetro, and its Cine P.F. Gastal; Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul; and Santander Cultural.
A series of public programs, events and educational programming will occur before and during the Mercosul Biennial as exercises of mediation between the participating artists, partners and audiences. Such programming will activate conversations and trigger questions to foster a more in- depth understanding and appreciation of the value of creative endeavors, and of the importance of experimentation and collaboration across fields of art, culture and businesses. The pedagogical program will include innovative teacher and mediators training programs and curricula development, as well as a reconsideration of the on-site museum educational spaces.
The concept of the communication strategy of the Mercosul Biennial reflects on the historical changes in communication technology throughout centuries. For this reason, information will be rolled out and experienced in diverse media channels to share information of the biennial, as well as to serve as mediation tools between its contents and forms, the institution and audiences. In this light, the tasks of communication/marketing and curatorial/education are interlinked through artistic gestures and other creative activities.
Whether working independently or institutionally, all the members of the curatorial team are in regular contact with artists and intellectuals and have a strong knowledge of art history and cultural theory. They also all have a strong commitment to education, and have experience in organizing major projects that emphasize both artistic intent and public participation.
The curatorial team consists of a 3-tier structure that works together to create a synergy of concepts and forms for the Mercosul Biennial.
In the first tier is the Artistic Director and Chief Curator Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, whose responsibility lies in providing the overall concept and direction of the Mercosul Biennial, forming the curatorial team, determining contents of the biennial programming, and providing project and team oversight.
In the second tier, there are three curators: a Ground Curator Mônica Hoff provides the vision, ideas and methods for the pedagogical program of the Mercosul Biennial, and oversees its implementation; a Time Curator Raimundas Malašauskas develops content for the exhibitions of the Mercosul Biennial, also participating in the artist selection and in creating processes and projects for the Mercosul Biennial; a Space Curator Bernardo de Souza focuses primarily in the research and development of new commissions with artists, as well as in assisting in the development of the Mercosul Biennial exhibitions.
The third tier consists of Cloud Fellowships to strengthen the intersection of curatorial and pedagogical research and projects of the Mercosul Biennial, reconsidering the place of information in the public presentation of contemporary art. The fellows provide multiple perspectives and entry points to the Mercosul Biennial, during its research stage and public iterations.
The Curatorial Cloud Fellows Sarah Demeuse, Daniela Pérez, and Júlia Rebouças provide suggestions to the curatorial team, conduct research, occasionally work as interlocutors between artists and the organization, and develop writing projects for the exhibitions and their publications.
The Pedagogical Cloud Fellow Dominic Willsdon advises the curatorial team on aspects of mediation, workshops, and tools for educational programming, and may propose and develop positions or projects about learning with art.