With an ambitious and unprecedented format, the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo - Affective Affinities hopes to encourage an individual appreciation of art by avoiding an overarching theme that could prompt pre-established understandings.

The title for the 33rd edition of the Bienal de São Paulo was selected by its curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, director and chief curator of the Cisneros Collection, to resonate with ideas presented in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel Elective Affinities (1809), as well as Mário Pedrosa’s important thesis On the Affective Nature of Form in the Work of Art (1949).

However, the title is not intended to provide the exhibition with a thematic direction. Rather, it reflects the show’s organisation, which draws on artistic and cultural links, as well as affinities between participating artists. As in Pedrosa’s text, it proposes an investigation into the ways that art creates an environment of relationships and communication, which begins with the artist and moves through the object to the viewer. Presence, attention and the way that the environment influences our experience, are the premises that guide Pérez-Barreiro’s curatorial proposal, which functions as a response to a world of ready-made truths, in which the fragmentation of information and inability to focus attention can lead to alienation and passivity.

With a strong belief in the positive impact of a radical change in the operating systems of the Bienal de São Paulo, for this edition, Pérez-Barreiro has invited seven different artists to freely organise exhibitions that dialogue with their practices. Mamma Andersson (Sweden), Sofia Borges (Brazil), Waltercio Caldas (Brazil), Alejandro Cesarco (Uruguay), Claudia Fontes (Argentina), Antonio Ballester Moreno (Spain) and Wura-Natasha Ogunji (USA) have, with complete autonomy, chosen their participating artists and artworks. The only criteria is that they must also include their own work in their exhibitions.

In addition, Pérez-Barreiro has also curated 12 solo projects featuring work by Feliciano Centurion (Paraguay), Alejandro Corujeira (Argentina), Luiza Crosman (Brazil), Nelson Felix (Brazil), Siron Franco (Brazil), Tamar Guimarães (Brazil), Aníbal López (Guatemala), Maria Laet (Brazil), Vânia Mignone (Brazil), Denise Milan (Brazil), Bruno Moreschi (Brazil) and Lucia Nogueira (Brazil).