In 1951, in a Brazil on the way to urbanization, when the nation’s first museums dedicated to modern art were still in their first five years of existence, the 1st Bienal de São Paulo attracted 100,000 people to the Trianon Esplanade. Featuring artworks that would directly and profoundly influence the direction of Brazilian art, the Bienal in its first edition established its connection to cutting‑edge artistic thinking and production, and demonstrated its ability to bring art closer to the general public.
Much has changed in the Bienal since then, as would be expected. The event has incorporated various subject matters, media and art languages. To remain pertinent, the structure of the show has stayed malleable, adapting to different formats and models to fit the times. In this 33rd edition, the Bienal continues to blaze a trail to the new. Once again, the event is experimenting with another configuration, this time as an alternative to the “operational system” widely used over the course of the last twenty years by the largest exhibitions of contemporary art, among which the Bienal itself is included.
The Fundação Bienal, created in 1962, arose with the same aims of innovation and criticism as the biennial event that is its raison d’être. For almost sixty years, the foundation has likewise adopted various operational and management models, seeking constant improvement in the realization of its mission and in the processes used to achieve it. The scope of the foundation’s activity has grown, as well as its reach. Today, while the Bienal exhibition is undeniably the foundation’s main project, the show is only one of the many activities carried out by the Fundação Bienal. These other activities most notably include a successful program of traveling exhibitions, promoted through many cultural partnerships, especially with Sesc São Paulo – an initiative that brings the Bienal’s innovative and transformative presence beyond the city of São Paulo and the country of Brazil.
The 33rd Bienal de São Paulo – Afinidades afetivas [Affective Affinities] would not have been possible without the support of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture and the São Paulo State Secretariat of Culture through the cultural incentive laws; the State Secretariat of Education; the master sponsors Itaú and ISA CTEEP; and all our other partners, especially the São Paulo City Government, the Municipal Secretariat of Culture, the Municipal Secretariat of Education, the Secretariat of Greenery and the Natural Environment, and Ibirapuera Park. It is through collaboration with these agents, as well as with the art community and the public, that the Fundação Bienal aims to keep contributing to the development of a society increasingly more creative, tolerant and plural, open to dialogue and to the new.
João Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz
President of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo