Aníbal Jozami and Diana Wechsler anticipate dates, themes and regions of Bienalsur 2025

Aníbal Jozami and Diana Wechsler anticipate dates, themes and regions of Bienalsur 2025
Aníbal Jozami and Diana Wechsler anticipate dates, themes and regions of Bienalsur 2025

Aníbal Jozami, general director, and Diana Wechsler, artistic director of Bienalsur

The International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South (Bienalsur), the polyphonic project that went from Buenos Aires to Tokyo between 2023 and 2024, is in good health. And it anticipates a 2025 edition, enhanced and extended to new geographic destinations. But before that, and speaking of health: Aníbal Jozami, general director of Bienalsur and rector emeritus of the University of 3 de Febrero – the educational institution that promotes this project -, lived hectic days in the midst of the Biennial at the end of last year. In November 2023 and in an exotic destination like Dakar, Senegal, it broke down and the situation led to it having to then undergo two operations, in Paris and Buenos Aires. This is how he tells it, now in May 2024, when he is fully recovered.

“I am partly glad that this story is linked to Bienalsur because it crossed three continents. When we were on tour with Diana and Ariel Riveiro. Thanks to them I am alive because in a hospital in Dakar they decided to sleep on the floor of the room.” Diana is Diana Wechsler, artistic director of Bienalsur and main promoter of a different contemporary art platform: decentralized, horizontal and humanist. “This whole situation that we had to experience with Aníbal in the midst of exhibition openings in Africa and Europe, defines our imprint a little. We do not have any pre-established model. The only model, with enormous diversity, is to find a way to make it happen. Sit down and talk and see how it happens,” says Wechsler.

Image from the exhibition “Signs of the landscape” at the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center. One of the last stops of Bienalsur 2023.

Aníbal Jozami and Diana Wechsler they talked with Infobae Culture an autumn afternoon about the past, present and future of Bienalsur, the creature that both created and – like Jozami now – enjoy good health. “It is something very big, which can always grow even more. It is endless,” Jozami defines optimistically. “It’s hard work but fascinating,” adds Wechsler.

Aníbal Jozami: —It is a project, an undertaking that is closely linked to different types of events, from the change of officials to the change of political regime in a country. Even to geographical and climatic phenomena that may exist in a certain country.

Diana Wechsler: —It also has its range of listening regarding what Bienalsur is, because since it is south and since we come from the south of the south and we come from South America, people who even know the south well, are surprised that suddenly we say “with the University of Tokyo or with Senegal.” And they tell us, “But how? In addition to Latin America, are they in those countries? It is striking that we are also in other places.

The footprint of Bienalsur in the Center Pompidou in Málaga, through the installation by Beatriz González

—How do you evaluate this edition? What was the most you like? What were the best moments, in your opinion?

DW: —From my point of view it was the most challenging edition and also, without a doubt, to continue expanding it to many other places that we had not been until now. And furthermore, we had a different way of reception from each of the places, whether we had been there before or not. Because we are now with a different solvency, I think, and in turn they see us in a different way. Because Bienalsur is no longer something that never happened. And that helps a lot because it establishes a situation of prior trust. You saw the case of the Archivo de Indias, where clearly no one thought of it as a place for contemporary art. And suddenly, management was surprised by the fact that this worked. In this past edition, we started in September 2023 in Brasilia: the Banco de Brasil Cultural Center was so interested in the project that it decided to have it in two more locations (São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro). This led us to the fact that the last inauguration was on March 20, 2024, when the Open call for the 2025 edition.

AJ:—In addition to that there were institutions like the Pompidou of Malaga who did not want to take out the exhibition, because he loved it. The thing is that over time, societies based on mutual respect and friendship have been created with people from many museums. Strong personal relationships have been established that make this not just our project. A lot of people around the world are already living it as a common project.

Bienalsur in Dakar, Senegal: work by Rodrigo Díaz, dedicated to María Remedios Del Valle at the African Renaissance Monument

—What can be said about the 2025 edition of Bienalsur?

DW:—On the one hand we made a Open call shorter period, for the reason of being more effective in reaching the institutions with the projects and eventually, opening other more focal calls like the ones we did, for example, for the Diego Bianchi in Dakar or for residence in Cameroon. That is, more specific things that happen later. But for us, the call has two main reasons: one, to identify the themes, that is, where the thematic accents are. For example, there is a burden placed (in a very high percentage) on environmental problems and extractivism. Very high. Migration continues to be a strong topic, but for example, the presence of gender issues and queer issues was greatly reduced.

AJ:—Over the years, different things changed, adapting our themes to what the artists proposed. That’s why we say that we read the discourses of society through the artists’ proposals. It is remarkable what is happening this year. And we also made it shorter with the idea that there wouldn’t be so many thousands. And yet, more than 3 thousand projects were presented.

Aníbal Jozami, general director of Bienalsur: “A lot of people around the world are already experiencing it as a common project.”

—And what will be the extreme point of the next Bienalsur?

AJ:—Japan is going to be there… The 18,370 kilometers are because Japan is at that mileage. We are going to be in Africa more. They had invited us to give a talk about Bienalsur in the heart of Africa, in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, but we had 35 hours there and 35 hours back to be there for two days… The idea is to be more in Africa, somewhere place more in the Arab world and we are seeing some things in Australia.

DW:—Without talking about distance, but about expansion, about the stain spreading, we have serious chances of growth in Germany, France and also towards the north of Spain, with some new places that we have been rehearsing. But until now it has been used more as a residence than as an exhibition site.

“There is a burden placed (in a very high percentage) on environmental problems and extractivism,” anticipates Diana Wechsler about the next edition of Bienalsur

—Based on your experience and knowledge, is contemporary art reflecting a more hostile world, with growing social tension?

DW:—I believe that when raising, as I said, the question of the environment and extractivism, with everything that is also relevant in issues such as colonial policies or persistence of control dynamics, yes. It is an ambient climate that is somehow reflected in the artists’ gaze. But I think that directly, there is a reflection of what and how the world in which we live is. There is a project, for example, that works on reality and fiction, regarding war. And almost in real time he works with the images of what is happening in Palestine: a game of “before” and “after” in certain urban settings. And also the presence of a dystopian way of life.

AJ:—In each place, due to circumstances that may be specific to that place, a different climate is noted in interpersonal relationships, and a high level of hostility. We see that reflected in art as well.

[Fotos: Gustavo Gavotti; prensa Bienalsur; EFE/ André Coelho]

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