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Seven days in the art world

Organized around a fair that will bring together a select group of Brazilian and foreign galleries under an innovative curatorial concept, the Art Week will also be hosting a series of exclusive shows and cultural activities that will provide visitors with a unique experience Semana de Arte (Art Week) will be taking place in São Paulo between the 14th and 20th of August 2017, aiming to honor, discuss and expand a market that has been growing exponentially for the last 15 years, in the city that has consolidated itself as its epicenter.
Headed by gallerists Luisa Strina and Thiago Gomide, curator Ricardo Sardenberg and cultural impresario Emilio Kalil, the Art Week – presented by the Ministry of Culture and Bradesco Bank– is organized in the context of the visual arts, but its scope is much wider: the Week starts off with a series of exclusive performing arts, film, dance, music and literature shows strewn around a number of venues, followed by a cycle of panel discussions featuring national and international speakers, a round of architectural routes, and culminates in an art fair that will feature a select group of galleries from Brazil and the rest of the world.
– It is a small fair in which we curate the galleries as well as the art works on view. It is as though we were organizing various simultaneous exhibitions – says art dealer Luisa Strina, who opened the gallery named after herself in 1974, and who last year ranked among the world’s most influential people in the arts scene, according to ArtReview and Vanity Fair magazines. – We wanted a fair that was not just centered on the market, one that boasted a week filled with culture around it.
– One thing there is no shortage of is fairs – adds Thiago Gomide, partner-director at the Bergamin & Gomide gallery. – The market in São Paulo has grown so much in the last years that we feel there is room for a model that is different in terms of the criteria for choice, the quality of the content, one that offers a unique experience that is thought through to the very last detail. What is important is to surprise, that it does not feel like a large comercial event, that visitors are able to perceive that everything in it was thought through, discussed and selected. It is more than just an art fair; it is a grand art event. The idea is to offer a new format where primary and secondary markets will not be divided into distinctive sections, and the booths will be arranged in order to create a special flow between the spaces allocated to exhibitors as well as on a more in-depth involvement both with the art works on view and the galleries' propositions. All the exhibitors will be presenting special projects, whether it be solo booths, dialogues between two artists or around specific themes – like the reassembly of the gallery occupied by the artist Ridyas at the 1977's Bienal Internacional de Arte de São Paulo or a show focused on Dadaism, Surrealism and their unfoldings in Brazilian art of the first half of the 20th Century. The diversity of names, periods and provenances is eye-catching: from Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Dadamaino and Martin Kippenberger to Marcius Galan, Amalia Giacomini, Los Carpinteros and Carlos Bunga. The fair will take place in the Hotel Unique from August 18th to August 20th, with a special opening for the press and guests on the 17th. Among the participating galleries are ones that do not normally frequent the Brazilian circuit, such as Luhring Augustine and Alexander and Bonin (both from New York). Foreign brands like Galleria Franco Noero (Turin), Galleria Continua (San Gimignano) and Galería Elba Benitez (Madrid) will also be present.
Nationally speaking, some of the country’s most important and/or most interesting galleries will be in attendance. As opposed to the open registration model used in large fairs of the international calendar, all the participants will have been selected and invited by the Art Week organization.
– I always say it is a fair for professionals, and for those who are active participants in the market. It is not a social program, it is meant for people who are actually involved. The São Paulo art scene is currently undergoing a process of specialization, and this is the reason for holding a fair for people who are part of this market, in view of how much it has grown and how professional and diverse it has become. Collectors are increasingly more sophisticated, regardless of their financial means – says Sardenberg, who was the Inhotim Institute’s first curator and co-founder of the publishing company Cobogó. – We could have done just an art fair, but I envisage São Paulo, Latin America’s largest city, as a veritable cultural melting pot, and I feel this is something that should be encouraged. The Art Week is our contribution towards this.
In addition to curating the fair, Sardenberg is in charge of a cycle of panel discussions that will take place at the Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo on Tuesday August 15th. At 10am, Fernanda Brenner (Pivô) and Bernardo José de Souza (Fundação Iberê Camargo) carry out a talk regarding curatorial models in non-profit private institutions amidst the current political context in Brazil. At 11:30am, artist Bernardo Ortiz talks about the exercise of walking by the landscape aware of perception – a divagation that runs throug color descriptions and questionings about how things are made and how they last. At 2:30pm, critic and curator Paulo Sérgio Duarte discusses with curator Maria do Carmo Pontes the work of Brazilian artist Antonio Dias, who will have a solo booth centered on his 1970's production put together by Galeria Nara Roesler during the art fair. Closing the day, at 4:30pm, art historian and curator Isobel Whitelegg, director of the MA Art Museum & Gallery Studies at Leicester University, presents her research of the history of Latin American biennials around the 1970's and 1980's, culminating in the Bienal de Havana's third edition, in 1989, and arousing a discussion on the meaning of globalization to these shows.
– A structural transformation took place in 1989, not just from an institutional viewpoint, but also where the market is concerned, and of course, also in terms of artistic production. Up until then, people had either only collected art from their country, or operated within the United States-Europe axis. That was when the real turning point for what is nowadays known as global art in the contemporary context happened – says Sardenberg. – And timing could not be better to debate this issue, as globalisation itself is undergoing a period of crisis. The world is seeing a resurrection of the State, a quest to find a national identity in lieu of a cultural identity. It suffices to look at the current political and economic scenario, whereby everything is being called into question. We do not know whether what is about to happen is an exhaustion or a great reform, but there is certainly much debate about the issue. As yet, it is unclear what the implications will be for the world of the arts, but depending on what happens politically speaking, there will undoubtedly be effects. The program beyond visual arts is being coordinated by Emilio Kalil, who along 40 years dedicated to cultural management directed the Grupo Corpo, produced the São Paulo Biennial, and more recently acted as Rio de Janeiro Municipal Secretary for Culture and president of the Cidade das Artes Foundation, in addition to having directed two of the most important theatres in Brazil, namely the Municipal Theatres of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Kalil organized a series of theatre, dance, film, music and literature presentations, all in line with the premise of originality.
– The idea is that the Art Week tours around São Paulo – says Kalil. There is a robust list of attractions – all of them free of charge and subject to room capacity. In Dance and visual arts: encounters, that occupies the Tucarena theater on Monday August 14th, curator Helena Katz organizes a video-dance festival centered around the work of choreographers who delved into the visual arts, as is the case of Trisha Brown, artist Robert Rauschenberg's famed partner, and Merce Cunningham, who in addition to Rauschenberg, also worked with artists such as Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. The program will be live narrated by actress Maria Luisa Mendonça. On the following day, also at the Tucarena theater, Escrevivência com o coração na ponta dos dedos gathers writer Conceição Evaristo and bandolinist and composer Hamilton de Holanda around literature and music, Always highlighting the presence of the African Diaspora in the arts made in Brazil.
On Wednesday August 16th, at the same venue, Hamilton Vaz Pereira commands a dramatic reading of the play Trate-me Leão, one of the most emblematic by the Asdrúbal Trouxe o Trombone theatre company; it will be performed by a new generation cast on occasion of the 40th anniversary of its debut. And on Saturday August 19th, there will be a special screening of the documentary Maria – Não esqueça que eu venho dos trópicos, that delas with the life and work of Maria Martins (1894-1973), acknowledged as one of Brazil’s greatest sculptors – married to an important Brazilian diplomat, she had a 20-year relationship with French artist Marcel Duchamp. After the projection, at the CineSesc, codirectorsFrancisco Martins and Elisa Gomes will take part in a debate with Graça Ramos, autor of the book Maria Martins – Escultora dos trópicos.
– Maria Martins travelled extensively throughout the world, and one might say she was something of a precursor of what is happening with Brazilian art today – says Kalil. The Art Week will also offer a series of routes around São Paulo’s architecture landmarks, guided by architect Aieto Manetti. Two will be author-oriented, visiting buildings by modernist exponents Lina Bo Bardi (Sunday August 20th, at 10am) and Paulo Mendes da Rocha (also on Sunday August 20th, at 3pm). The others will concentrate on the areas of Higienópolis (during a pre-opening on Saturday August 12th, at 11am) and the Centre (Saturday August 19th, at 3pm). The routes will be carried out by foot and/or van, and registration will take place through the e-mail educativo@semana.art.

Thiago Gomide, who worked as a producer for Inhotim and as an executive for Bolsa de Arte do Rio de Janeiro, concludes: for those who love, buy and live within the world of the arts, everything is related, linked, everything is inspiration.

Isabel De Luca