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SP-Arte Special Edition: Social Engagement and Social Responsibility at the Art Fair
by ArtSlant Team


More than art at São Paulo International Art Fair

Georgia Phillips-Amos explores Brazilian art's history of social engagement, highlighting SP-Arte's Diálogos forum.

It may be reductive, but whenever I look at the Brazilian art world I am really looking for the hidden invitation to do more than just look.

Participation, community, and dialogue have been endemic to artistic practice in Brazil throughout the last century. The country has a rich national history of artists teasing out uncomfortable social conflicts and shifting the role of art in society.

Hence – though I know SP-Arte is a private art fair – my mind can’t help but scan the Pavilhão da Bienal for built-in openings for social engagement. Fortunately, the fair includes programming specifically dedicated to talking about the jagged edges of Brazilian cultural heritage, giving ground to new voices alongside internationally recognizable institutions... 

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An Art Fair in São Paulo: Should art fairs become socially responsible?

Charlotte Jansen asks how art fairs can confront social issues.

My memories of São Paulo are of an astoundingly big, vertical metropolis – it’s not a city, it’s a concrete universe – suffocated with traffic, human and vehicular. Traversing this post-apocalyptic urban desert from the expensive neighborhood of Jardins (fancy brunches, a boutique for Havaianas, and a concentration of pristine, architect-designed galleries) to Republica, I was confronted with a catastrophic scene: a community stricken by extreme poverty, crime, and drug addiction. As an outsider I stood numbly looking on at a splinter of what constitutes reality in Brazil’s largest city.

Founded in 2005 by Fernanda Feitosa SP-Arte is now one of the city’s principal art events, alongside the São Paulo Bienal, displaying booths from world-class galleries to museum curators, celebrities, and some of the globe’s heaviest collectors. On one hand, SP-Arte’s success is proof of the significant progress that has been made in Brazil the last decade. But in the context of a city as riddled with problems as this, where rich and poor remain so heart-breakingly divided, what is the role of the art fair?

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Moleculagem, Untitled from the series caput x kaput, 2012, Sculpture in wood, MDF, lamps, monitor, 98 2/5 × 59 1/10 × 23 3/5 in, 250 × 150 × 60 cm; Courtesy of the artists and Amarelonegro Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro

Alice Quaresma, Oceano, 2013, Photograph with acrylic paint, single edition, 39 2/5 × 70 9/10 in, 100 × 180 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Mercedes Viegas Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro

Olga de Amaral, Bruma F (Blue-Green), 2013, Linen, gesso, acrylic, 74 3/4 × 23 1/2 in, 189.9 × 59.7 cm; Photo © Diego Amaral; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Agnès Monplaisir, Paris

Nino Cais, Untitled, 2013, Inkjet print on cotton paper, 31 1/2 × 47 1/5 in, 80 × 120 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Central Galeria de Arte, São Paulo

Bruno Miguel, Porque tudo que cabe na paisagem cabe numa tela, 2013, Oil, synthetic enamel, ColorJet printing, acrylic paint, acrylic resin, white glue and pen-based oil on canvas, 55 1/10 × 82 9/10 in, 140 × 210.5 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Luciana Caravello Arte Contemporânea, Rio de Janeiro. The artist is also represented at SP-Arte by Galeria Emma Thomas, São Paulo.


Posted by ArtSlant Team on 4/2/14

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