Remembering the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo

To Live Is To Be In The Moment

The title of the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, INCERTEZA VIVA (Live Uncertainty), proposed to look at notions of uncertainty and the strategies offered by contemporary art to embrace or inhabit it.

The 32nd São Paulo biennial – Incerteza Viva/Live Uncertainty – shined a light on the numerous uncertainties of contemporary life as they pertain to themes of class, race, gender, sexuality, ecology, and technology. The most successful works in the show interrogated our perceptions of history and its closed narratives, highlighting the stark continuities between past and present. Building on matters teased out in Ashton Harris’s piece, Carlos Motta’s installation Towards a Homoerotic Historiography (2013–16) reached further into the depths of historical complicity. The work included the project Nefandus (2013–16), a collection of gold objects depicting various severed body parts and figures engaged in intimate acts. Presented within the language of a museum display, this piece strove to highlight Western colonialism’s suppression of indigenous cultures and its perversion of notions of gender and sexuality through the imposition of Christian beliefs. Motta thus forced us to think about current gender and sexuality debates not within the narrow lens of our time but through the arc of history.