08 Dec 2021
The Fundação Bienal de São Paulo announces the reelection of José Olympio da Veiga Pereira as the institution’s president and releases data on the impact of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo
Photo: Giovanna Querido / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo
José Olympio’s new mandate begins January 2, 2022; the reelection took place after the closing of 34th Bienal, which impacted more than 3 million people, who made in-person and virtual audience to this edition

In a meeting held yesterday (Tuesday, December 7), the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo’s Administrative Board reelected the institution’s current president, José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, to a second mandate, which will extend from January 2, 2022, to December 31, 2023.

José Olympio’s first term, which began in 2019, was exceptionally extended to three years. According to the institution’s statute, when the 34th Bienal’s exhibition was postponed from September 2020 to September 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his mandate was automatically prolonged until December 2021.

With his reelection, José Olympio reaffirms his commitment to the institution, on whose administrative board he has served since 2009, and where he led the founding of the International Advisory Board, in 2016. The report of his management will be published by the Fundação in January 2022 and will be available at the transparency area of the Bienal Portal. The programming for the next two years includes projects such as the traveling shows of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, in cities in Brazil and abroad; Brazil’s official representation at the 59th Venice Biennale and at the 18th Biennale Architettura; the continuity of the actions of cataloging and conserving the Wanda Svevo Historical Archive; as well as the 35th Bienal de São Paulo.

For José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, “the process of institutional strengthening and the consolidation of financial sustainability that the Fundação Bienal has been undergoing since 2009 allowed the institution to overcome the challenges of the recent years, and, moreover, to create opportunities for the diversification of its programming and the enlargement of its contact with the public, especially through digital actions. The success of these initiatives, as well as that of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, was only possible due to the commitment of my colleagues in the governance of the Fundação Bienal and the institution’s qualified technical team, as well as the teams hired for the Bienal’s curatorship, architecture, graphic design, and other areas. It was a privilege to lead this team in the last three years, and I look forward to advancing, in the next two, what we have already begun to construct together.”

José Olympio participates on the international boards of the Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA) and of Tate Modern, in London. He is a member of the acquisition committee of Fondation Cartier, in Paris. In Brazil, he serves as president of the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo and as a board member of MASP. He also participates on the board of SOS Mata Atlântica. José Olympio is president of Banco Credit Suisse Brasil and holds a degree in civil engineering from Pontifícia Universidade Católica of Rio de Janeiro as well as an MBA from Harvard Business School. 

34th Bienal de São Paulo – Faz escuro mas eu canto

This past Sunday, December 5, the 34th Bienal de São Paulo – Faz escuro mas eu canto [Though it’s dark, still I sing] was closed. This edition of the event reached more than 3.4 million people, including 2.7 million online and 700 thousand in-person visitors (400 thousand to the exhibitions held at the Bienal Pavilion and 300 thousand to the partner institutions). 

The 34th Bienal expanded in time and space through the holding of solo shows and performances at the Bienal Pavilion and at a network of partner institutions in the city of São Paulo and abroad. This edition, which was inaugurated on February 8, 2020, with a performance by Neo Muyanga (with the Coletivo Legítima Defesa and Bianca Turner) and a solo show by Ximena Garrido-Lecca, was extended for a year longer than planned, when its main show was postponed from September 2020 to September 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the extra year, the Fundação Bienal launched the campaign The Bienal is on, thus strengthening its online presence (continuous since 1996, when the Bienal de São Paulo first went online, for the event’s 23rd edition) and enlarging the show’s digital programming. It also presented the exhibition Vento [Wind] in November and December 2020, and released online its outreach program, consisting of actions for the formation of teachers and students, held before the opening of the main exhibition. These actions also reached people from other states of Brazil and even residents of other countries.

Another important front for the diversification and enlargement of the event’s audience was the consolidation of its profile on Instagram as a permanent source of content about contemporary art, in addition to the themes and artists of the various editions of the Bienal. As an outcome of this effort, the number of followers of its fanpage grew from 90 thousand, in January 2019, to 358 thousand, in December 2021, and there were 1.7 million interactions (likes, comments, shares and video views) with the contents of the 34th Bienal on this channel.

On September 4, 2021, the main group show was inaugurated in the Bienal Pavilion, refitted for the situation of pandemic, with rigid protocols defined together with Hospital 9 de Julho, and a food court installed outside the building, in an open space. The dynamics of the group visits was reconfigured with smaller groups and the alternation of mediators, for the safety of the participants and the team. Partnerships were established with public agencies such as the State Secretariat of Education, the City Secretariat of Education and the Coordination of Policies for the Black and Indigenous Population of the State Secretariat of Justice and Citizenship, in order to facilitate the visiting of teachers and students from the public-school network, as well as from indigenous communities and quilombola settlements in São Paulo State.

To dialogue with the artworks featured in the 34th Bienal, a public programming was conceived that included musical presentations, performances, meetings with artists, and talks. One of the main fronts of the public programming was the activation of the work deposição [deposition] by Daniel de Paula, Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter: an old trading pit formerly used at the Chicago Board of Trade was re-signified by the artists and by its uses at the Bienal, ranging from open talks to concerts by Maria Gadú and BNegão. More than 100 performances and activations of artworks were also part of the show, with a highlight on the initiatives for accessibility and inclusion, conceived, for the first time, in an integrated way by different areas of the Fundação with the support of the consulting firm Mais Diferenças.

The 34th Bienal in numbers

91 participating artists (including 2 artist duos and 1 artist collective) from 39 countries
1,100 artworks (approximately)
133 days of exhibition at the Bienal Pavilion
22 partner institutions in Brazil
4 partner institutions abroad

3.4 million people, including: 
- 400 thousand visitors in the Bienal Pavilion 
- 300 thousand visitors in the partner institutions 
- 1.7 million interactions (engagements) in the social networks (likes, comments, shares and video views)
- 1 million pageviews on the show’s website

190 outreach actions (meetings, courses and minicourses) with 10,005 participants
21,059 participants in mediated, thematic, inclusive visits and service to users in the study and mediation spaces of the 34th Bienal
4,113 educational publications distributed

Public programming
7 open talks in the Oficina Cultural Oswald de Andrade
7 experimental music presentations with the Teatro Cultura Artística / Festival Novas Frequências
17 Conversations
26 Art circles
125 performances
4 actions of the cycle Bienal dos Índios
2 concerts: Maria Gadú and BNegão
31 live musical presentations in the Bienal marquee

Digital programming
12 Studio visits
5 meetings of the As vozes dos artistas [The Voices of the Artists] series
5 virtual minicourses about the statements
21 correspondences
3 live streams for the launching of the educational publication

The 34th Bienal timeline
February 8, 2020
A Maze in Grace
Performance by Neo Muyanga with the Coletivo Legítima Defesa + Bianca Turner

February 8 – March 15, 2020
Solo exhibition
Ximena Garrido-Lecca

September 16, 2020
Launching of the campaign The Bienal is on and of the 34th Bienal’s digital programming

November 14 – December 13, 2020
Group show

September 4 – December 5, 2021
Though it’s dark, still I sing
Group exhibition

+ complete list of the exhibitions of the network of partner institutions here.

34th Bienal de São Paulo – Though it’s dark, still I sing
February 8, 2020 – December 5, 2021
Chief curator: Jacopo Crivelli Visconti
Adjunct curator: Paulo Miyada
Guest curators: Carla Zaccagnini, Francesco Stocchi and Ruth Estévez
Assistant curator: Ana Roman
Guest editor: Elvira Dyangani Ose in collaboration with The Showroom, London