One year after its original opening date, on September 4, 2021, the 34th São Paulo Biennial finally opened its doors to the public. The title, “Though it’s Dark, Still, I Sing,” inspired by a verse published in 1965 by Amazonian poet Thiago de Mello, brings a message of tenacity, hope and resilience to enlighten the hardship that has been terrorizing humankind by so many contemporary happenings and for some, for more than 500 years. A positive perspective seen through art is always encouraging. The arts continue to serve its purpose, working as an outlet for channeling emotions, a toolbox to help us make sense of the world that we coexist.
The second oldest Biennial, followed by the Venice Bienalle, happens at the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion, located inside Ibirapuera Park (“Old Tree” in Tupi native language). Recently elected on social media as the best park in South America, it houses the pavilion designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture.
Since its first edition, in 1951, the São Paulo Biennial has hosted approximately 140 countries, 11,500 artists or collectives, more than 70 thousand works, and 8 and one half million visitors. This year, celebrating its 70 years, slightly scaled back, it includes 91 artists from all continents except Antarctica, and 1,100 artworks. The distribution between women and men is balanced; 4 percent of the artists identify as non-binary. It brings nine Indigenous artists, the highest representation of Native People from different parts of the world.