In stark contrast to this year's much-criticized São Paulo Biennial, the concurrently running, off-circuit Paralela '08 "From Near and Far" is a heady alternative for those looking for a more rigorous program than what's being offered inside the Oscar Neimeyer building.
With work on display from 61 Brazilian artists from the best galleries in São Paulo—such as Casa Triangulo, Galeria Luisa Strina, Galeria Vermelho, Galeria Milan and Galeria Nara Roesler—this year's theme borrows a title from French anthropologist's Claude Levi-Strauss' book. Curator Rodrigo Moura chose works revolving around the theme of place, all produced circa 1970 and after. While a lot of these artists are not hugely known to the mainstream, they show supreme promise in Brazil's future as a place with something to say in contemporary art, like Debora Bolsoni's scattered porcelain popcorn to the various photo sets from Artur Barrio and Claudia Andujar. Books, video and mixed media work balance out the rest.
Paralela, hosted in the breathtaking space of the Liceu de Artes e Oficios, has been running in line with the São Paulo Biennial since 2002 and is turning out to be a formidable competitor. You can watch a short episode from the Metropolis television show of a little bit of what's on display here.