Sao Paulo Art World Suffering Severely, Particularly This Year’s Bienal

Sure there might be museums in Minnesota shutting their doors, museums in Los Angeles running out of money, and the Newseum in DC is now starting to lay people off, but if you think times are tough here, you should be grateful that you aren’t in Brazil right now. Following a few years of bad press for museum thefts, general safety hazards, and massive budget cuts to already miniscule funding, the country’s art infrastructure is suffering plenty. So much so that the Sao Paulo Bienal, which has been running since late October and ends on the sixth of next month, is barely showing any art, nor does it have many galleries involved or employees manning the events. Here’s a bit:

“There is a huge question mark in the air,” says Sao Paulo dealer Daniel Roessler, noting that “visitor numbers from abroad have dropped substantially.” Twenty museum groups visited his gallery during the last biennial, but this year he expects only two or three. He contrasts the Sao Paulo Bienal with the Mercosur Biennial, founded in 1997 in Porto Alegre. “The local business community in the south of Brazil is very supportive of their local biennial,” he says, noting that Mercosur is more professionally run and is growing. “One is going up and the other is in a big crisis.”