Travessias – 13th International Architecture Biennale of São Paulo
Crossings are usually related to connections: a bridge allows transposition between riverbanks; a stair links two floors; a ramp beats a gap in an accessible way; paths connect territories.
They can also be understood as a journey: the forced migration of African people abducted from their native home, escapes to the quilombos, or displacements from the countryside to the city. Therefore, the crossing is a movement that involves bodies and territories and, if done collectively, it is a sharing of experiences, memories, and identity. Social inequalities, temporal and geographic, mark territories, and in the Brazilian case, they were shaped by disputes involving the desire to stay and move.
In this vast patchwork of collective experiences, some narratives are legitimized at the expense of erasing others. With the violation of the right to memory, identity, and image, one’s body becomes a document, as Beatriz Nascimento suggests. Bodies in the constant movement are looking for territoriality, dreams to come true, survival, and the possibility of becoming visible in their own way. Therefore, it is crucial to reflect on territories and borders through collectively erased memory surveys, such as buried water resources, demolished buildings, threatened cultural and spiritual practices, and violated multiple identities.
The exhibitions – spread between the SESC Avenida Paulista and the Centro Cultural São Paulo – were elaborated from an international open call and invited professionals and collectivities to express their concerns, proposals, and research. Reports, manifests, and provocations are displayed on different types of media. Also, the exhibitions offer suggestions for space narratives, territories, organizations, and practices, demonstrating know-how and constructions that allow other social groups to exist and resist in the context of daily conflicts. Thus, the aim is to dwell on erasures, resistances, and diverse experiences up to the present day from a thread of projects, works, and performances that encourage conversations between professionals from different regions of Brazil and other continents.
Travessias invites visitors to occupy and dialogue with the exhibitions spaces so they can move their bodies into the social practices of a city: sites where a street gains a more public dimension and is occupied by cultural collectivities and balls, rolezinhos, street corners talks, dive bars with tables on the sidewalk; where reality is shaped into different forms, improvising places of caring and solidarity among neighbours, and forming more cooperative ways of doing politics, from local leaderships articulations. It is an invitation to look around, move one’s body, and about existing paths. It is about imagining futures by emphasizing the recognition of practices and collective bits of knowledge: ancient, marginalized, insurgents, and their contributions to architecture, cities, and ways of living and residing.
Brazilian Institute of Architects – Sao Paulo (IABsp)
Constituted on fragile colonial bases, Brazilian cities suffered, at the turn of the 20th century, violent transformations oriented towards modernization and development. In this process, they distanced themselves from the diversity of ways of being and living in the territory, more connected with nature and ancestral cultures.
Our cities are formed by these historical crossings and persistent imbalances that were evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as territorial inequalities. Now that the ways of living, working and moving in the city after the health crisis are at the center of the debate, we have the opportunity to reflect on the knowledge that persisted on the margins of city planning and that can help us make the crossing to another urban and architectural culture.
Travessias is the motto of the 13th International Architecture Biennial (BIA) of Sao Paulo. The journey into the future that we want depends on deepening the democratic character of our societies. The improvement of political representation, the inclusion of the diversity of expectations and knowledge are paths explored in the works presented in this biennial. We will move forward more wisely recognizing this past.
With these issues in mind, IABsp seeks to radicalize the role of the biennial as a crossing platform for another city model, through an experimental structure that has been consolidating for some editions. The curatorship was chosen for the second time though a call of proposals, now in the form of co-curatorship, with a more collaborative character. And, even at the height of the pandemic, the process of building this BIA was done through public consultations, open calls and preparatory debates.
Discussions and experiences of action in the networked nuclei, outside the central business district, follow as a strong institutional commitment. Considering that its manifestations are often invisible, although they are territories of resistance, in these nuclei the proposal is to promote integrated transformation projects with local communities, social organizations and public power.
In this edition the programming along Paulista Avenue is strengthened by the partnership with high visibility institutions, stimulating the displacements through the public space, place of cultural and political manifestations.
The IABsp invites visitors of the 13th BIA to see themselves as agents in the construction of this transformative crossing and hopes that the discussions raised by the event will make us reflect, dream and act for cities that are bridges for care and life.