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Pratiques du hasard

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Jonathan Pollock

Annexes

Archive Mania

Suely Rolnik

Texte intégral

  • 1 « Psychography » refers to the reception of written messages through a medium, supposedly guided b (...)

If the past insists, it is because of life’s unavoidable demand to activate in the present the seeds of its buried futures.
(Walter Benjamin, Psychography)1

  • 2 Video directed and edited by Jean-Luc Godard in 1993. Short version, 2’15», 2006, France, availabl (...)

There is culture, and that is the rule. There is exception, and that is art.
Everything tells the rule: cigarettes, computers, T-shirts, television, tourism, war. Nothing says the exception. That is not said. It is written, composed, painted, filmed. Or it is lived. And it is then the art of living. It is of the nature of the rule to desire the death of exception.
(Jean-Luc Godard, Je vous salue, Sarajevo)2

1The globalized art world has been overtaken in recent decades by a true obsession with investigating, producing, exhibiting, and acquiring archives. The questioning of this phenomenon depends on at least two sets of questions. The first refers to the kind of practices that are being catalogued. Which practices are these exactly? Do they share common traits? Do they originate from similar historical contexts? The second set of questions refers to the situation that has given rise to the current archive fever. What is the cause of the emergence of such desire today? What different politics of desire have given impulse to the many initiatives focused on archives, their emergence and means of production, presentation, circulation, and acquisition?

2It is an undeniable fact that there exists a privileged object of this yearning for the archive: the broad spectrum of artistic practices framed by the label « Conceptualism », which were developed throughout the world during the 1960s and 1970s. The so called « Conceptual artists » adopted as the subject of their research the way in which the « art system » determines their creations. Their focus is on the diverse levels of such a system: from the spaces where the works are exhibited, to the categories and genres that the (official) history of art uses to qualify them, and to their media, supports, etc. The making critically explicit of such limitations within the artworks themselves provided at that moment in history a key orientation to artistic practice in search of lines of flight from such established boundaries. This operation provides the core to the poetics of those artistic proposals, and the conditions for the potency of their thinking–here resides the vitality of those artworks and the virus that they carry.

3But the compulsion to archive has not extended to every Conceptual artistic practice that emerged during those decades. The compulsion’s main focus is artistic proposals made outside the axis formed by Western Europe and the US – especially certain proposals originating in Latin America, in countries then under military rule. Why this obsession on archiving? And why are those practices especially embraced?

Macro and Micropolitics

4There is, in fact, a shared element to certain artistic proposals developed in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, which nevertheless adopts distinct forms in each case: the problematization of the political dimension of the institutional territory of art was added to its other dimensions whose excessive influence on artistic creation was criticized during those years. The reason is that politics, which always permeates art in its transversality, regardless of the context, becomes more explicit in authoritarian states–both Left and Right–because its effect on artistic actions is more violent. However, it is necessary to differentiate between two modes of politics present in the Latin American artistic practices that are the object of this archive mania: macro- and micro-politics.

5Macro- and micro-political actions have the same starting point: the urgency of confronting the tensions of human life in the places where its pulsation is interrupted or at least weakened. Both have as their aim the liberation of vital movement from its obstructions. However, the orders of tension that each confronts are not the same.

6What gives rise to macropolitical action are the conflictual tensions between the different interests that compose a society (conflicts of class, race, religion, gender, etc) or between them and State power. In other words, this type of action focuses the tensions in the cartography of visible and speakable reality, and aims at a redistribution of places and their combinations so as to produce a fairer social configuration. What gives rise to micropolitical action is the disparity between the forms of reality and the imperceptible living forces that agitate themselves under its supposed stability, which never cease to affect our bodies. The irreducible paradox of these dynamics produces a zone of otherness within subjectivity where the parameters of orientation in the present are put constantly into crisis. The tension of this exteriority forces us to think/create an art work, a concept, a mode of existence or another manifestation in order to bring to the surface of reality that which can enter the diagramme of the living real, invisible and unspeakable, changing the shape of the actual cartography.

7The cognitive faculties that approach each one of those two types of tension are not the same, nor are the cognitive faculties that make possible the actions to confront them. The macropolítical tension is accessed through perception of forms on which we project representations, attributing meaning to them; the action of confronting the conflicts on this plane depends on rational and pragmatic intelligence and on conscious will. Micropolítical tensions are accessed by the sensation of that paradoxical dynamic, a faculty that depends on the body’s vulnerability to the living environment’s materiality (the esthetic experience). The action of confronting the conflicts on this plane depends on poetic intelligence and on the power of desire to hold subjectivity in a state of unease and to sustain its becomings.

A political potency immanent to art?

8While the effect of totalitarian regimes on culture manifests itself most clearly through censorship–its macro-political face–its micro-political, imperceptible effect is much more subtle, but no less nefarious. It consists in the inhibition of the very emergence of the creative process, even before artistic expression begins to take shape. Such inhibition is the result of an inexorable trauma caused by the experiences of fear and humiliation inherent to authoritarian governments, because of their tactics of imprisoning, torturing, and killing applied to those who oppose them. Those experiences impregnate the atmosphere with a terrifying sensation of imminent danger. The situation affects desire and weakens it, shattering the potency of thinking that desire summons and releases, and emptying subjectivity of its vital consistency. Since art is the privileged territory for exceptions within the rule of culture, it is especially affected.

  • 3 « Unconscious repression » is my chosen translation of the Freudian notion of Verdrängung: a remov (...)

9Experiences of this kind are inscribed in the immaterial memory of the body, the physical and affective memory of sensations, different but inseparable from the memory of the perception of forms and facts, with their respective representations and their connective narratives–in this case, conventionally led by the figure of the victim, who interprets them by appealing to a purely moral discourse. The unraveling of desire, the attempt to free it from its impotence, constitutes a task as subtle and complex as the process that caused its unconscious repression3 and gave rise to the figure of the victim. Such a task can endure for thirty years or longer, and may take shape with the second or third generation. The special vulnerability of some artists to this experience in its bodily dimension (regardless of whether or not they are aware of it or of its ideological interpretation) is what drives them to seek the micro-political potency that is immanent to artistic practice–an attitude that is very different from the use of art as a vehicle for macro-political information. What guides artists in this case is listening to the intensive reality that spurs them, and this reality can only puncture its boundaries if it is made concrete within the artist’s poetics. This ability makes art a powerful chemical reactive that, propagating through contagion, can interfere in thought-creation and molecular composition throughout the environments into which it enters, dissolving the toxic elements.

10This specific political dimension characterizes the sharpest artistic practices developed in Latin America during the dictatorships of the 1960s and 1970s. In the face of the omnipresent, diffuse experience of oppression, the activation of the power of invention embodied in those works proves that it is possible to maintain the exercise of thinking even in this kind of situation, which can have effects against the tendency to defensive reactions of involuntary blindness and deafness as a matter of survival.

When formal rigor becomes a vital rigor

11It would be stupid to suppose that within the artistic practice in which micro-political potential is affirmed, form is irrelevant. The political and formal are not opposed; on the contrary, in such practices, the formal rigor of the work–whether painting, sculpture, urban intervention, installation, or performance–is more important and often more subtle than ever. In this case, forms are not powerful and seductive in their own right, or autonomous from the process that gives birth to them; form here is inseparable from its role as an actualization of the sensations and tensions that force the artist to think-create. A kind of rigor which is aesthetic, because it renders sensible what is announced by the affects of the world within the body; but it is also an ethical one, because it implies taking charge of the demands of life to remain pulsating. In this sense, the more precise and in tune the artistic language, the more vigorous its intensive quality and the stronger its seductive power–this is what provides it with the energy that enables it effectively to influence the contexts through which it circulates. When it reaches this degree of rigor, art becomes a sort of medicine: the experience it promotes might intervene in the subjectivity of those who come close to it, precisely at the point when desire tends to become trapped and to lose power. When this happens, the exercise of thought is reanimated, as well as other types of perception–but also, and above all, of invention and expression. A new politics of desire and its relationship to the world is then drawn–new diagrams of the unconscious in the social field, actualized through reconfigurations of the current cartography. In that sense it is also a political rigor that opposes those forces that draw maps in order to cripple life at its core, which is the persistent renewing of itself in the permanent creation of the world. In short, the formal rigor in this case is a vital rigor, inseparably esthetical, ethical, therapeutic and political.

12The specifically political character of the artistic practices that we are considering here lies, therefore, in what they can give occasion to in the environments that are affected by them. The issue is to be aware not of the tensions (their representational, macro-political face), but of the experience of this state of things within the body itself, and of the effects mobilized by the forces that make them up (their unconscious, micro-political face). In this manner, focus is increased–the same focus that is lost when what is related to the social life of art is exclusively reduced to a macro-political approach, which, as we have seen, tends to be fostered by situations of state oppression or extreme social inequality. In fact, such was the case with another kind of artistic practice during the 1960s and 1970s in South America, as well as with certain contemporary practices, mainly since the 1990s (and not only on that subcontinent).

Ideological conceptualism?

  • 4 I will mention just the key authors in the establishment of this reading: the Spanish author Simón (...)

13Here resides an unfortunate misunderstanding promoted by (official) art history: the macro-political tendency has been taken as a general interpretive tool for all Latin American artistic practices from those decades, through the label of «political» or «ideological» Conceptual art. This category was established by certain texts and exhibitions in the mid-1970s within the Western Europe–US axis–texts and exhibitions that have since become canonical.4 It contributes to the denial of the micro-political artistic actions, hindering both their recognition and their expansion. Such narratives ignored the essence of the actions on which we are focusing here: by acting on the affective-resonating nature of subjectivity, and not only on consciousness, such actions began to overcome the split between the poetic and the political. This split used to be actualized in the conflict between the classic figures of the artist dispossessed of the macro-political dimension of his practice, and the activist, dispossessed of the esthetical dimension of his cognitive capacity and as such dissociated from the body as a vital compass in the interpretation of the world and the actions that result from it.

  • 5 The idea that counterculture has failed, quite common among the generation that lived this movemen (...)

14While it is true that the overcoming of this split was already in process within the artistic avant-gardes of the early twentieth century, and that it was developed and disseminated during the first half of that century–and more intensively in the postwar period–it was during the 1960s and 1970s that this connection acquired the consistency of a vast movement in art, influencing culture in a broader sense, which includes modes of existence. These changed irreversibly during that period, when the exception of art proved to be stronger than the rules of culture–hence the name it has been given: « counterculture ».5 Such reactivation, when it suffered a military coup, tended to retract back to the silence of unconscious repression.

Colonial unconscious repression

15For this genealogy to gain precision it is necessary to point out that the joint articulation of the poetic and the political does not start with the historical avant-gardes; it actually starts much earlier: such an articulation is one of the fundamental aspects of the politics of cognition that, in different ways, characterized a great part of the cultures dominated by Western European modernity. This cultural regime is inseparable from its counterparts in the field of economy (the capitalist system) and in the field of desire (the modern individual, source of bourgeois subjectivity, and whose psychic structure Freud framed under the concept of « neurosis »). Let us not forget that this regime was forced on those cultures at large as a universal paradigm through colonization, targeting not only other continents (America, Africa, and Asia) but also the different cultures that were smothered within the European continent.

  • 6 It has been estimated that 80 percent of those arriving in Brazil from Portugal at the beginning o (...)

16Among these are the Mediterranean cultures, especially the Arab-Jewish culture that was dominant on the Iberian Peninsula prior to the intercontinental navigations that launched colonization in the late fifteenth century. As is well known, from then on those practicing this culture suffered the violence of the Inquisition, and many of them took refuge in the « New World » that was being built in America.6 Such violence was perpetrated throughout the same three centuries when Africa suffered the assault of slavery, and when indigenous American cultures suffered the assault of near extinction, a violence that keeps going on in the present day. This constitutes a triple foundational trauma in some Latin American countries. But there is more: the forms of violence that characterized the colonial period left active scars on the collective body’s memory of American societies after they had secured their independence, starting with deep-rooted class and racial prejudices. Remnants of a politics of colonial, slavery-inflicted desire, such prejudices generated, and still generate, the worst kind of humiliation and probably the most serious traumas, hard to overcome due to the persistence of the stigma and its recurrence in social life.

  • 7 After reading this text, historian Maria Helena Capelato suggested to me that we should call this (...)

17In other words, the unconscious repression of the exercise of knowledge from the living body and the immanent articulation of the poetic with the political has its origins in Western modernity, and culminates today with the cognition politics of transnational financial capital, having passed by dictatorships in the case of the Cono Sur. We could even risk stating that, from a micro-political perspective, such an operation had a central role in the foundation of Western culture and its imposition on the rest of the world, and because of this I will refer to it as « colonial unconscious repression ». If we consider colonization from this perspective, we might conclude that this has perhaps been its most effective device.7

18The object of this kind of repression is precisely the strength of inventive imagination and its capacity to resist the desire to maintain the familiar forms of life–a desire that is characterized by a politics that adopts perception as the exclusive means of knowing the world. In conclusion, the object of this type of repression is the body itself, and its ability to listen to the diagram of forces of the present in its paradoxical dynamics in relation to the actual forms. Subjectivity becomes unable to support itself on the tension of this dynamics, the engine of the thought machine that produces the actions in which reality is reinvented. The activation of the ability that was repressed by modernity constitutes an essential dimension for any poetic-political action. Without such activation, the only possibility is to produce variations around the modes of production of subjectivity and of cognition that found us as colonies of Western Europe.

19Unconscious repression functions through complex procedures that have been transformed throughout history: let us focus on only the most recent experiences. In totalitarian regimes, as we have seen, the exercise of thought is concretely hindered, and this ultimately leads to its inhibition, threatened by fear and humiliation. In contrast, in the context of financial capitalism, the operation of unconscious repression is much more refined. The goal is not to prevent such an exercise, or to aim at its partial or full inhibition, but to foster it, even to celebrate it, in order to place it at the service of the purely economic interests of the regime, voiding it of the immanent disruptive force of its poetics. This is what drives many thinkers to conclude that contemporary capitalism finds its main energy source in the power of thought-creation, and has led them to call it « cultural », « cognitive », or « informational » capitalism–an idea that is common currency today.

The return of the repressed within archive-mania

20However, there is a reverse side to this dynamic: the memory of the bodies that inhabit the regions controlled by the dominant culture is not only inscribed with the trauma of the articulation of the poetic and the political that intensified its unconscious repression. It is also inscribed with the experience of that articulation, as it was experienced in those cultures, which waits for the right conditions to reactivate itself and escape from its confinement. These conditions are caused by social situations that favor the neutralization of the pathological effects of the trauma, in the way it shapes existence and its destinies.

21A situation of this kind can be found in the experience of the state of things today. The proliferation of world-images that incessantly appear and disappear at a blinding speed, promoted by the development of communication technologies, will not just result in the instrumentalization of our subjective forces by the market. If we add to this situation the polyphony of cultures that can be heard and experienced at any time and in any place, we can see that their effect is also to make it impossible for any repertoire to have a stable or absolute power.

22It is precisely in this context that the will to return to existing archives emerges, as does the will to create new ones from the traces of the artistic practices produced in South America in the 1960s and 1970s–a will that is today almost epidemic. With the dictatorships, the experience of the fusion of poetic and political forces put forward by such practices remains veiled in the memory of our bodies. We could only access it through the exteriority of the forms in which it was manifested, and always in fragmentary form. As we have seen, its disruptive power–and what this power triggered and could continue to trigger–was buried by the effect of the trauma that the military governments caused, and this was followed by their perverse reanimation by the cognitive capitalism that followed it.

The toxic misunderstanding of the (official) history of art

23This is the major aspect of South America’s artistic production in the 1960s and 1970s that seems to have escaped art history’s hegemonic narrative. Even if this production could perhaps be labeled with the umbrella term « Conceptualism », it is unacceptable to call it « ideological » or « political » in order to characterize a peculiarity that in practice has widened its limits and potentially transformed its surroundings. While it is true that we find in these proposals a seed of the integration of the political and the poetic, as experienced and actualized in artistic practices and in the modes of existence that emerged at that time, such a seed was fragile and unsayable. To call it « ideological » or « political » is a symptom of the denial of the exception that this radically new artistic experience introduced into culture and the state of estrangement this caused in subjectivities. The micro-political dimension that is immanent to art is therefore denied, its process of germination is interrupted, and what is to come remains incubated at best.

24However, this situation also mobilizes a politics of desire that is diametrically opposed to the above: at the exact moment in which those initiatives appear, and before the seeds of the future that they brought with them emerge, the global art system incorporates them in order to transform them into fetishized objects, plundered in a cognitive war among the major museums and collectors of Western Europe and the U.S. Such an operation risks sending back those seeds to oblivion and makes it an efficient device of cognitive capitalism. As Jean-Luc Godard suggests, « It is of the nature of the rule to desire the death of exception ». While the movement of critical thought that took place in such an intense manner in the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America was brutally interrupted by the military governments, at the exact moment its memory begins to be reactivated this process is again interrupted. But this interruption is now more subtle, taking the form of the glamorous refinement and seduction of the art market–a market with interests that have too much power over artistic creation and tend to ignore its thinking poetics. This operation is very different from the atrocious actions exerted against artistic production by dictatorial regimes: it is a new chapter in history, yet much less postcolonial than we would wish.

Archives for activating poetics?

  • 8 While they act as tools in an initiation rite for the middle and upper classes who aim to gain acc (...)

25The politics of the production of archives and the need to distinguish its multiple modalities become relevant here, which vary between active and reactionary vectors. In terms of the more reactionary vector, archiving consists in the mere cataloguing of the products of an artistic practice, in view to its supposedly objective reconstitution. The more active vector, however, implies the invention of archives « for » and « against » the disruptive forces of the experiences involved. In this case, the intention is to unblock the necessary access to the seeds of the future, hidden in the poetics that they address. The challenge of such initiatives does not consist in reconstituating the forms that this poetics has created, nor in turning them into fetishes or monuments, but to activate their critical acuteness in order to guarantee the conditions of an experience of the same caliber when facing the questions that are put today, so as to counter the operations that repeat its unconscious repression. The critical-poetic force of these archives can in this manner come together with the forces of creation active today, adding to their power in the fight against the effects of the toxic vaccination of cultural capitalism, which neutralizes art’s virus and makes it work only for its own purposes. The latter not only operates through the art market, with its proliferation of galleries and art fairs, but also via the proliferation of biennials (a phenomenon to which certain critics have given the name of “biennialisation” of the planet) and museums of contemporary art of all shapes and sizes. Many of these new museums are designed to further the gentrification of cities and to give them a role on the stage of transnational capitalism8.

26The point is not to demonize the art market, collecting, or commercial galleries and art fairs. Neither is it to demonize biennials, nor museums, which play an important role in the building of archives of artistic production, preserving them and making them available to the public. Such institutions are not external to art, but an integral part of its dynamic. Artistic, critical, curatorial, museological, and archiving activities must be thought through the forces that determine them at each moment, in their complex transversality and not as if in an idealized, imaginary territory. From an ethical perspective, what matters is if they are driven by the desire to inscribe the exception of art in a globalized culture, contributing to preserving the polyphonic exercise of the « art of living ».

27If there is a micro-political achievement after the 1960s and 1970s that differentiates that time from ours, it is the possibility of abandoning the old romantic dreams of « final solutions » - be they utopian or dystopian-that have always resulted in despotic regimes. The process of reactivation of the cognitive capacity linked to the vibratibility of our body that is currently taking place, even if it is only just beginning, allows us to glimpse the fact that there is no other world but the one in which we live, and that only within its dead ends can other worlds be invented at each moment of human experience. This is the work of thought, in art or in other languages: to draft cartographies while new existential territories are taking shape and others are vanishing. But let us not be naive: nothing guarantees that the critical-poetic virus carried by the seeds we have discussed will effectively spread as a world epidemic, not even the virus carried by work from our own time, no matter how powerful it might be. There will always be culture as rule and art as exception. What art can do is release the poetic virus out into the open air. And that is at least something, in the midst of the struggle between the different forces that shape the provisional forms of reality in their never-ending process of construction.

Notes

1 « Psychography » refers to the reception of written messages through a medium, supposedly guided by «spirits», as practiced by the spiritualist movement, which is still very popular in Brazil. The reference to this term in the form of the Walter Benjamin quote as the epigraph of this essay is a humorous way to affirm that what matters in the theories to which we refer is their resonance with what we are trying to elaborate, collaborating as such to make it sayable. In this case, to quote is to refer to the archive of living effects, of ideas inscribed in our body’s memory, in order to actualize them in new ideas, instead of a sterile scholarly archive inscribed in our representational memory that we reproduce in order to authorize our writings.

2 Video directed and edited by Jean-Luc Godard in 1993. Short version, 2’15», 2006, France, available from www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU7-o7OKuDg.Voice-overwrittenandnarratedbyGodard.

3 « Unconscious repression » is my chosen translation of the Freudian notion of Verdrängung: a remove from consciousness as a defensive psychic strategy counteracting the affects of traumatic experiences. In English the concept was translated as « repression », a word that usually refers to a conscious mechanism. But it is not by chance that Freud named this concept Verdrängung instead of Unterdrückung, as « repression » would translate in German: his choice indicates the unconscious dimension of this operation. This is the reason why in Portuguese and French this concept was translated respectively as recalque and refoulement instead of repressão and repression.

4 I will mention just the key authors in the establishment of this reading: the Spanish author Simón Marchán Fiz (Del arte objetual al arte del concepto. Madrid: Comunicación, 1974.), the British author Peter Osborne (« Conceptual Art and/as Philosophy » in Rewriting Conceptual Art, Ed. Michael Newman and Jon Bird, London: Reaktion Books, 1999), and the Colombian author Alexander Alberro (Conceptual Art: A Critical Anthology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999). Key among the exhibitions is « Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s–1980s, » organized in 1999 at the Queens Museum by a group of eleven curators led by Jane Farver, at the time director of exhibitions at the museum, Luis Camnitzer, and Rachel Weiss. The exhibition traveled to the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, US), Miami Art Museum (Miami, US) and Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (Ghent, Belgium).

5 The idea that counterculture has failed, quite common among the generation that lived this movement, is the result of a melancholic politics of desire that has stuck to the forms that the power of creation invented during the 1960s and 1970s, and ignores the forces that caused them and that keep on inventing new landscapes. That such forms must die when they do not correspond to the forces that come through in a new state of things mobilizes the power to create new forms. What does not die is this power, precisely what produces the exception within the rules of current culture. The sad affects of guilt, resentment, and regret hinder the invention of new constellations, rare moments of victory for the active forces in social life. The same could apply to another plaintive choir from the same generation dedicated to macro-political activism during the 1960s and 1970s in Brazil (as in other countries in South America that were under dictatorships in that period), whose constant litany is the alleged failure or mistake of the militant forms put into practice. The figure of the victim in which they are trapped prevents them from seeing that the active forces that animated their practices prepared the ground for the undeniable political, social, and economic advances that Brazil has achieved during the past decade. The recent election of Dilma Rousseff, a woman and a former guerrilla activist, as president of Brazil is a symptom of the destiny of the powerful macro-political experience that characterized that period.

6 It has been estimated that 80 percent of those arriving in Brazil from Portugal at the beginning of the colonization process were Jews and Arabs, refugees from the Inquisition, the so-called New Christians. These data, however, have not been confirmed by historical research. Historian Anita Novinsky has noted in this respect that « despite diverse documents confirming the arrival of many New Christians to Brazil, in the frame of an ongoing process of migration that lasted for three centuries, there are no reliable data to specify the percentage. The research of my team at the University of São Paulo suggests that 30 percent of the white population of Rio de Janeiro had this origin. In the states of Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, and Ceará (northeast of Brazil), the number could be much higher. More than half of the white, middle-class population were Portuguese Jewish » (private correspondence).

7 After reading this text, historian Maria Helena Capelato suggested to me that we should call this phenomenon « historical unconscious repression », in order to point out that it is not limited to colonization–it took place in innumerable configurations over the five centuries of Brazil’s history and continues today. This suggestion seems pertinent, but I choose to adopt a politics of concepts that is based on their affective-resonating force. In this sense, the term « colonial » reminds us of the mode of existence that founds us culturally and still structures our subjectivity, and thus contributes to the recognition of its active presence in our subjectivity and allows us to shift from it. We must insist on a micro-political vision in the debate that has taken place during recent decades about what has been called « postcolonialism ».

8 While they act as tools in an initiation rite for the middle and upper classes who aim to gain access to the VIP areas of the global economy, museums of contemporary art, biennials, and art fairs have become privileged power instruments for cities to enter the stage of transnational capitalism. We should differentiate these from historical biennials like those in Venice and São Paulo, as well as Documenta in Kassel, which predate this phenomenon. The last two were begun in the 1950s as a result of forces that are very different from the ones that have in recent times been « biennalizing » the planet. The São Paulo Biennial is one of the devices that gave support to the rich artistic production of Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s, and Documenta was born from the demand to reopen Germany’s social pores to breathe the critical-poetic oxygen that was suffocated by Nazism. Wounded by the blow that Brazil suffered at the hands of the dictatorship–a blow from which it is still trying to recover–the São Paulo Biennial finds itself at an impasse: it must either reawaken the seed that founded it and escape from the process of biennialization by aligning itself with the vectors that are promoting a displacement from this sad landscape, or submit itself to this process, identify with its reactive vectors, and maintain the denial of its origins.

Auteur

Professeur à l’Université Catholique de São Paulo et au MaCBa, Barcelone. Elle est également psychoanalyste, commissaire d’expositions, critique culturelle et écrivaine.

© Presses universitaires de Perpignan, 2012

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