5 October — 17 December, 2006
Bienal de São Paulo
Parque Ibirapuera, portão 3
São Paulo, Brazil
Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica's "environmental program" provided the conceptual framework for the 27th São Paulo Bienal, curated by Lisette Lagnado with a team of co-curators that includes Rosa Martínez, Adriano Pedrosa, Cristina Freire and myself, and Jochen Volz as guest curator. Since Oiticica's work was concerned with the creation of relations between art and life, it seemed fitting to bring in Roland Barthes' reflections on the creation of contingent communities, as was laid out in the seminars he gave at the College de France in 1976–77. The title of the 27th Bienal is taken from Barthes: How To Live Together.
Barthes appropriates from Jacques Lacarrière the term "idiorrythmie", from the greek Idios, one's own, and Ritmos, rhythm. The central question in Barthes' argumentation resonates in our project: is it possible to live at the individual's own rhythm and still retain a sense of collectivity that is not bound by a fixed and rigid social norm? Barthes delves freely into literature, mythology, sociology, and history to extract those moments where a sense of community exists, one that acknowledges the choice of the individual, from the cloister to the sanatorium, from the brothel to the dining table, analizing those situations where a temporary community is established. Two main axes structure the Bienal: the constructive will, in the sense that Oiticica gave to the artist as a constructor of society, and a farewell to aestheticism, that we have termed programs for life.
Norwegian artist Lars Ramberg was chosen by the curatorial team, based on previous works like Fremdgehen and Zweifel, where he addresses the difficulties of living together. Zweifel is an urban-scale installation that the artist — who has been living in Berlin for the last years — installed on the roof of the Palast der Republic in the ex-DDR, which was the site of the East Germany government previous to the reunification. The building, no longer in use, had been slated for destruction. There was a heated discussion as to whether it should be kept as a sign of a part of the contemporary history of Germany, or if this nondescript building (nicknamed Erich Hoenecker's Lamp shop), done in a bland official style proper of institutional buildings of the Cold War era, should be torn down and replaced with a version of the historical building that had preceded it, the Berliner Schloss. Ramberg installed a large luminous sign with the word Zweifel ("doubt"), signaling the uncertainties associated not only to the building itself, but with what it stood for: did the reunification grant all German citizens equal rights and opportunities? For São Paulo, Ramberg decided to present a film that shows a fixed-plan image of the building when the Zweifel sign was installed (clin d'œil to Warhol's Empire), done in high definition video and projected to an almost architectural scale; alongside it, there will be a small monitor with a live webcam feed of the Palast der Republic being demolished.
Lars Ramberg will also present a new work, which was generously funded by OCA. We Intended to Sing the Love of Danger, the Habit of Energy and Fearlessness consists of a futuristic-looking house placed on a rotating platform. Longtime interested in radical architecture and design from the seventies, Ramberg located and bought one of the few remaining examples of the "Venturo" house, a prefabricated plastic cabin designed by the Finnish architect Matti Suuronen in 1970–71. The house had been lying in a warehouse for decades, the ageing carcass of failed modernism. The Venturo was originally thought as a beach house or bungalow that could be transported and installed anywhere, thus fulfilling the modernist aim of being universal, not needing to respond to a particular context. Unlike other Suuronnen's designs (e.g. the famous 1968 "Futuro" house), the Venturo was a commercial flop and went quickly out of production. For the São Paulo Bienal, the Venturo will be placed again in a significant context: Oscar Niemeyer's pavillion, which houses the entire Bienal. With only very raw restoration and placed on top of a carpet printed with an idyllic landscape, We Intended to Sing the Love of Danger, the Habit of Energy and Fearlessness will also feature interviews with Suuronen, for whom Niemeyer was an acknowledged influence. Through Ramberg's presentation, Nordic futuristic design will establish an interesting conversation with Brazilian tropical modernism.
The Office for Contemporary Art Norway
The Office for Contemporary Art Norway is a private foundation and was founded by The Ministry of Culture and The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Fall 2001. The main aim of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway is to develop collaborations in contemporary art between Norway and the international art scene. The Office for Contemporary Art Norway aims to become a profiled contributor to the discourses of contemporary art.