Semana de Arte, São Paulo

A new art fair, run by galleries, comes with theatre, dance, talks and tours, 12–20 September

Betty Leirner, Reserviert,1995–2017, inscription on polycarbonate, wood 12 x 20 x 4 cm. Courtesy Galeria Superfície, São Paulo

Two of São Paulo’s leading galleries, Bergamin & Gomide, and Luisa Strina, have set up a new art fair, titled Semana de Arte, which opens 14–20 August in the Brazilian city. The crucial bit of their plan however seems the separation of business and pleasure, in which the curatorial bells and the whistles are hived off from the serious buying and selling.

‘It is a fair for professionals, and for those who are active participants in the market. It is not a social program, it is meant for people who are actually involved’ writes curator Ricardo Sardenberg, who is overseeing the project on behalf of Thiago Gomide and Strina.

So while there will be a fair for the pros (chequebooks at the ready...) at Hotel Unique (the watermelon-shaped establishment, designed by Ruy Ohtake, in the south of the city) which seeks to mix primary and secondary market works from 37 galleries – mainly domestic but with the international likes of Galleria Continua and Luhring Augustine rocking up for good measure – a whole week (hence the fair’s name) of less commercial activities will take place in different venues throughout São Paulo.

The division seems a good idea. While the sculpture gardens and ‘curated’ projects of the major existing fairs often feel a little perfunctory (or exercises in PR), the extra stuff Semana de Arte is promoting promises to be a cut above. The art historian Isobel Whitelegg presents her research into the history of Latin American biennials around the 1970s and 80s for example, while Pivô’s Fernanda Brenner and Fundação Iberê Camargo’s Bernardo José de Souza discuss curatorial models in the context of Brazil’s current political crisis (remember, Michel Temer’s first act as president was to axe the ministry of culture – though since reinstated); there’s a tour of Lina Bo Bardi’s architecture in the city; a reading of the Asdrúbal Trouxe o Trombone theatre company's iconic 1977 play Trate-me Leão; dance performances; documentary screenings. More besides, but you get the picture: ArtReview is definitely feeling the fun stuff as much as the pro stuff.

11 August 2017