The 3rd edition of the International Biennial of Contemporary Art from the South, organized by UNTREF, brought the critical art of more than 400 creators to 24 countries and more than 120 venues, inviting to discuss the most urgent issues of our time.

After six months of continuous openings, BIENALSUR 2021 comes to an end on December 30, after uniting 18,370 kilometers of contemporary art around the world. With exhibitions –installations, performances, activations and Public Programs– in 120 venues in more than 40 cities in 24 countries, it does so by reaffirming its vocation to make a different, delocalized Biennial that creates networks between countries, promotes processes of cultural integration, and offers a multiple exhibition space to make art available to everyone.

This year, the International Biennial of Contemporary Art from the South, created, produced and organized by the National University of Tres de Febrero (UNTREF), was present in countries such as Germany, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Spain, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Paraguay, Switzerland and Uruguay, among others, presenting works by more than 400 artists who propose an international conversation on the most urgent issues of our time.

Despite the pandemic, BIENALSUR managed to expand its map to reach places it had never been before. In 2017, its cartography included 80 locations distributed in 34 cities in 16 countries, while in 2019 it took place in 112 locations, 47 cities and 21 countries. During 2021, it incorporated 120 offices in 40 cities in 24 countries. The growth of the exhibition centers was exponential, as was the participation of artists, curators and the public.

“In general, biennials are held in cities and are made not for their inhabitants but for the public that travels there. BIENALSUR is different, it is for the people and reaches all those cities. A Biennial developed from the Global South, that utopian space if you will, which emphasizes art with little visibility and representation in the world art circuit. A Biennial that bets, thus, on the creation of networks between countries. A Biennial without borders. The fundamental value of BIENALSUR is to bring together people of different origins, without any type of differentiation of nationality, race or gender”, commented BIENALSUR’s General Director, Aníbal Jozami, in relation to its particularities.

For her part, the Artistic Director of BIENALSUR, Diana Wechsler, delved into the objectives that guide this mega artistic and cultural event. “The purpose of BIENALSUR is to establish a real presence of South America in the art atlas of the world and to contribute to the creation of a cultural citizenship; and in order to achieve this, it was necessary to define a format and operation by which the art of each region would not is integrated as a mere share of diversity, but rather works with respect for singularities, redefining traditional positions, making relationships more complex, recovering traditions, establishing other links between spaces and times, being consistent”, she affirmed.


Open Call

Based on the projects selected from the Open Call, BIENALSUR 2021 worked on five major curatorial axes: Ecological awareness, Ways of living, Transits and migrations, Fluid constellations and Politics of art.

Many of the exhibitions developed during the third edition aimed at pressing aspects, such as the vulnerability of migrant populations and the need to respect others without stripping them of their uniqueness, such the case of Together Apart, held at the National Museum of Colombia and at the MUNTREF Headquarters Immigrants’ Hotel in Buenos Aires; or the indigenous worldviews and the resistance of these peoples to the advance of extractivist capitalism, as happened with The Eternal Return of the New World and Silver Rights, which were housed in the Enrique Udaondo Provincial Museum Complex in Luján, and with Listening and the Winds, which took place at the Lola Mora Provincial Museum of Fine Arts in Salta and at the Migliorisi Foundation and the Center for Visual Arts -Mud Museum of Paraguay.

There was also room to think about the consequences of environmental degradation based on exhibitions such as Radical Ecologies, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Boca, Rethinking Beuys 40.460342 N – 16.342231 E, at the Fondazione Southeritage per l’arte contemporanea of Italy, and the entire circuit that was organized in the province of Córdoba, where five chapters dedicated to this theme were presented. The issue of the control mechanisms present in the cities in which we live and how to find a way to coexist with these spaces in an imaginative and disruptive way at the same time was explored, for example, in the five chapters held in Montevideo, Uruguay, and in Corona in the imaginary universe of Eduardo Basualdo, held at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf in Germany.

Feminisms and sexual dissidence found their place in a project such as Devenir cuerpx, exhibited at the Juan de Salazar Cultural Center of Spain in Paraguay. And the modifications of the human experience from the irruption of digital technologies inspired the Ecos proposal. A world between the analogical and the virtual, mounted in Jeddah and Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia.

This edition of BIENALSUR also brought together a large number of emerging artists from various countries and others with a recognized international career, such as the Korean Kimsooja, the French Christian Boltanski (BIENALSUR’s accomplice since the beginning of the project, in 2015, and to whom tribute was made in this edition), the Franco-Argentine Marie Orensanz, the Argentines Luis Felipe Noé, Carlos Ginzburg and Graciela Sacco, the Iranian Reza Aramesh, the Spaniard Jordi Colomer, the Saudis Muhannad Shono and Ahaad Alamoudi, the Austrian Gernot Wieland, the Italian Bruna Esposito, the Japanese Katsuhiko Hibino and the Cuban Belkis Ayón, among many others.


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