Announced as curator for the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo in December, Jochen Volz now publicly presents the first concepts for his work, as well as the international team selected to work on the conception of the exhibition, which is scheduled for September, 2016.
In accordance with issues that drive contemporary artistic production and informed by repeated visits to artists’ studios, exhibitions and galleries, Volz proposes the concept of “measures of uncertainty” – a concept capable of combining a number of contemporary topics and concerns.
Measures of Uncertainty
Inspired by disciplines ranging from thermodynamics to the theory of information, Volz begins with the concepts of “uncertainty” and “entropy” to consider “a system’s proximity to equilibrium or disorder,” keeping in mind that attempts to quantify uncertainty can be seen in various disciplines, ranging from mathematics to astronomy, and including linguistics, biology, sociology, anthropology and history.
According to Volz, art, unlike other disciplines, points to disorder in the system, taking ambiguity and contradiction into account. Seen in this light, it deals with counting the uncountable or measuring the immeasurable. Being that it is precisely a speculative discipline, art can supply strategies for life in an era of uncertainty.
“We are aware that the classical forms of governmental deliberation and decision-making have increasingly begun to fail, that long-standing values crumble and that some of our basic assumptions of ethics are being violated in many parts of our globe,” writes the curator. “We can state with certainty that uncertainty governs coming decades, whether that’s the eschatological events that some have predicted for the near future or the social, ecological, economical and political crises and changes the world is facing.”
Themes for reflection and work
Starting from this initial premise, themes such as Subjectivity, Ghosts, Collective Intelligence, Synergy, Ecology and Fear will structure the development of the curatorial proposal, seeking to establish a dialogue with the major issues of the day: climate change, the loss of diversity, extinction, social inequality, cultural differences, the exhaustion of capitalism and traditional governance from top to bottom, as well as myths, traditions, language and alternative models of education.
To assist him in the process of creating the exhibition, Volz has structured a team of co-curators from different parts of the world and with expertise in different fields of research: Gabi Ngcobo (South Africa), Júlia Rebouças (Brazil) and Lars Bang Larsen (Denmark).
Residencies and Workshops
Residencies and Research Scholarships across Brazil and abroad will allow invited artists to develop specific projects in close contact with partnering correspondents and specialists from many fields. A series of Public Programmes and Seminars will be organized throughout the year of 2016, which will introduce and discuss thematically the key-aspects of the overall project, across various disciplines and art forms. Some of the commissioned works will be Digital Commissions, projects that can be experienced by anyone online. The proximity to the processes of production will result in an exhibition that remains closer to the sites of creation and education (the studio, the workshop).
Following the 31st São Paulo Biennial’s initiative, also in 2016 we will organize a Curatorial Workshop, open to artists, curators, critics and other professionals. The curatorial team of the 32nd São Paulo Biennial will together with national and international experts develop the Curriculum and hold the workshops. The Curatorial Workshop is a way to fully use the synergies around the preparation of the Biennial and professional training for a local and global audience.