Curators revealed for next São Paulo Bienal in 2023

Manuel Borja-Villel, Grada Kilomba, Diane Lima and Hélio Menezes feature in ‘decentralised’ edition

Manuel Borja-Villel (photo: Joaquín Cortés/Roman Lores), Grada Kilomba
(photo: Ute Langkafel), Diane Lima (photo: Uiler Costa-Santos), Helio Menezes (photo: Georgia Niara).

The Fundação Bienal has announced that the 2023 Bienal de São Paulo – its 35th edition – will be curated by a team comprised of Manuel Borja-Villel, Grada Kilomba, Diane Lima and Hélio Menezes.

The exhibition will not feature a chief curator, but will be organised by the curatorial collective ‘in a decentralised manner’. The lineup represents progress of sorts for an exhibition (founded in 1951 – the world’s second oldest art biennial after Venice) which has never been led by a Black or indigenous curator – and has rarely featured women in the top role either. 

Borja-Villel is an art historian and director of the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid since 2008. Lima is a researcher and curator whose work focuses on decolonial perspectives – she recently cocurated Frestas – 3rd Triennial de Artes do Sesc SP. And Menezes is an anthropologist at the Universidade de São Paulo – recently curator of contemporary art at Centro Cultural São Paulo.

Meanwhile, Kilomba is an artist, whose multidisciplinary practice mixes history, theory and performance. “If I am to tell my story, I cannot tell it with the language of disciplines that have colonised me: the language of the patriarchy and of the colonisers,” she recently told ArtReview’s Fi Churchman. “We have to invent new languages.”

The biennial’s 2021 edition, titled Though It’s Dark, Still I Sing, was curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti. The show captured the sombre mood of a country ravaged by the pandemic, ecological destruction and political failure – while also gesturing at moments of social repair, wrote ArtReview‘s Oliver Basciano in his review last year.

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