Performed on the streets of Sao Paulo during the first few days of the biennial, a foursome of performers march and dance across sites of socio-economic disparity across the city. A pair of performers wears kid-sized ball costumes and death masks that could be seemingly sourced from a run-of-the mill costume shop while the other pair is dressed in all white tracksuits. With a soundtrack of audio samples emanating from their backpacks, Pope.L’s troupe evokes Brazil’s tradition of debutant balls, its popular culture and processional practices. Within this conflation of popular forms, Pope.L points to the city’s overarching class and cultural divides and how they affect one’s experience of the city.
It was refreshing to experience an exhibition that responded so astutely to its immediate context, one that privileged art’s and artists’ connectivity to the deep questions currently being faced by societies across the world. Incerteza Viva/Live Uncertainty demonstrated the essential paradox of life: to live is to be in the moment, to treasure the riches of the earth and those with whom we are fortunate to share it. But in our current time, as it has been in the history of human civilization, to live is also to struggle for rights and values that are paramount to individuals as well as society at large; to live is to contend with the inherent violence of the world.
Yesomi Umolu is Exhibitions Curator at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago