From 2nd of September to 7 of December – Parco Ibirapuera, Sao Paulo – Brazil
The title of the 31st Bienal de São Paulo, How to (…) things that don’t exist, is a poetic invocation of art’s capacities, of its ability to reflect and act upon on life, power and belief. The sentence, neither a question nor a proposition, entangles, through art, the mystical and spiritual side of life with political and social ideals – all this in a constantly changing world. It intends to communicate optimism about the possibilities of art today – an optimism that echoes that of the Bienal and the projects within it. The range of possibilities for action and intervention is open – an openness that is the reason for the first of the two verbs in the title to constantly change, anticipating the actions that might make present these things that don’t exist. We started by talking about them, later to move onto living with them. This was followed by using, struggling against and learning from those same things, in a list that has no end.
The existence of things that don’t exist can be grasped if we recognise that human understanding and action are partial, limited by expectations and beliefs. Some things, then, fall outside the commonly accepted frames of thinking and doing at any given time. When people find themselves in discord with existing explanations of life and their experience of it, the things that don’t exist become most tangible in their absence. They are often experienced as confrontations with limitations or injustices that we feel we cannot surpass, because we do not posses the means to do so.