Who we are
Founded in 1996, the Mercosur Visual Arts Biennial Foundation is a private non-profit institution with a mission to develop cultural and educational projects in the field of the visual arts, adopting best management practices and encouraging dialogue between contemporary art ideas and the community. On odd numbered years, the Foundation organizes the Mercosur Biennial, which is recognized as the world s biggest collection of events devoted to Latin American contemporary art, offering thousands of people free access to art and culture.
Twenty-one years after its
creation, the Mercosul Biennial
has established itself as one of the most important art events in Latin America, with eleven editions staged in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Throughout its history the Mercosur Biennial Foundation has always had a mission of emphasizing educational actions and the following guiding principles:
• focus on social contribution, seeking real benefits for its audiences, partners and supporters; • continuous proximity to contemporary artistic creation and its critical discourse; • transparency of administration and all its actions;
• priority investment in education and the consolidation of the Biennial as reference in the fields of art, education and related research.
In twenty one years of existence the Mercosur Biennial Foundation has organized eleven editions of the visual arts exhibition, with a total of 658 days of exhibitions open to the public, 74 different exhibitions, 6.061698 visits, completely free access, 1,283269 school bookings, 214.723 m² of prepared exhibition space, urban areas and rediscovered and revitalized buildings, 4845 exhibited works, temporary urban interventions and 16 monumental works left for the city, 216 sponsors and supporters throughout its history, the participation of 1,761 artists, more than one thousand direct courses, and training and mediator work for 1.680 young people. The Mercosur Biennial Foundation Board and Financial and Administrative Advisors work in a voluntary capacity. All the foundation's events and actions are provided to the public free of charge, through resources stimulated from a wide network of sponsors, partners and supporters.
The history of the Mercosur Biennial is a story of visionaries and entrepreneurs. Sponsors, curators, collaborators, producers, arts professionals and participating artists have played a fundamental role in constructing one of the biggest initiatives in the arts field in the country and in Latin America in general.
The history of the Mercosur Biennial is a story of visionaries and entrepreneurs. Sponsors, curators, collaborators, producers, arts professionals and participating artists have played a fundamental role in constructing one of the biggest initiatives in the arts field in the country and in Latin America in general. The Mercosur Biennial grew out of a long-term need for lasting cultural and artistic articulation. The first steps towards what became the Mercosur Biennial were taken by the cultural producer Maria Benites Moreno in 1994, when she developed a draught for a Southern Cone Biennial with the intention of giving visibility to Latin-American work. At the same time, a group of artists including Caé Braga, Gustavo Nakle, Maia Menna Barreto, Nelson Jungbluth, Maria Tomaselli, Paulo Olszewski, Paulo Chimendez, Manolo Doyle and Wilson Cavalcanti were discussing new possibilities for exchanges within Latin America. Although the two movements were unconnected, the project eventually took on a public dimension. In 1995 the group of artists sought support from the state government through the State Culture Secretariat´s State Institute for Visual Arts.
But the start of the process of constituting the Biennial in fact occurred in March 1995, at the home of the businessman Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter, in a meeting between the State Governor, the State Culture Secretary and other authorities,
'artists, collectors, business people and representatives from the cultural sector, who launched the proposal for organizing a Visual Arts Biennial. The initiative was seen as an effective possibility of organizing a large-scale project. '
Led at that time by Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter, the business people saw organization of a Biennial as a concrete possibility for investment in the cultural and artistic fields through social responsibility.
The public nature of the Biennial and its role in democratic society were also widely accepted by leading art-world and political figures in the south of the county.
In May of the same year, the Governor set up a technical commission to formulate an initial proposal for the Biennial, consisting of representatives of the state government, Porto Alegre city council, businesspeople, artists and class entities (Fiergs, Federasul and Farsul). In July, the Technical Commission subgroup presented a Proposal for the General Configuration of the Mercosur Visual Arts Biennial.
In August 1995, the group proposed the creation of private foundation and presented the Proposal for Creation of the Mercosur Visual Arts Biennial to the State Governor. On December 1st, the State Governor named the Mercosur Visual Arts Biennial Organizing Committee, which in turn recommended nomination of the president for organizing the 1st Mercosur Biennial and the composition of the Deliberative Board. The businessman and collector Justo Werlang was elected as the first president of the Mercosur Biennial.
On April 1, 1996, the Mercosur Visual Arts Biennial Organizing Committee approved the basic project for the first biennial together with the outline social statutes of the foundation, both presented to the board by Justo Werlang. The list of seven businesspeople to establish the Foundation was also drawn up in April: Adelino Raimundo Colombo, Hélio da Conceição Fernandes Costa, Horst Ernst Volk, Jayme Sirotsky, Jorge Gerdau Johannpeter, Sérgio Silveira Saraiva and William Ling. On June 3, 1996 the executive project for the 1st Biennial and an agreement with the State Government were approved, which created conditions for organizing the agreement with the state Government were approved, which created conditions for organizing the first edition. On July 11, 1996 , the Administrative Board presented the terms of Foundation´s public inscription and Social Statute.
Also in 1996, the Rio Grande do Sul State Government approved creation of a cultural incentive law, which was established in May 1997, allowing organization of the 1st Mercosur Biennial in September of that year.
Consolidated as the largest complex of events in Latin American art, the Mercosul Biennial has sought, in each edition, to extend the scope of its actions and contributions to the community attended. Several the developed projects offer opportunities for the cultural and social education of its thousands of visitors. Moreover, the design of the educational program emphasizes the participation of teachers, schools and mediators as effective partners with a view to social transformation. By associating sponsors and collaborators to the best practices of SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, the Mercosul Biennial has recognized education and democratic access to the visual arts as concrete tools for the exercise of citizenship and the construction of a more just and solidary society.