Framing a worldview: Princeton students explore globalization at São Paulo Bienal

This fall semester, Princeton students in the course “Contemporary Art: The World Picture” examined how large-scale art exhibitions challenge and transform the way we look at the world. A key component of the class was a fall break trip to Brazil to visit the 32nd São Paulo Bienal.

The course was led by Irene Small, assistant professor of art and archaeology, who said a goal was to study “the international mega-exhibition as a model for thinking about globalization — how art seeks to question, bridge and transform cultural divisions.”

The students met fellow scholars at the Universidade de São Paulo, which has a strategic partnership with Princeton. Francesco Perrotta-Bosch, a graduate student at the university’s school of architecture and urbanism, led the class on a tour of modernist buildings, museums and cultural centers. Students from the architecture school led a walking tour they created called an “urban safari” throughout the city. Cristina Freire, professor and curator of the university’s Museum of Contemporary Art, showed the group an exhibition she has been working on for several years, which focuses on Latin American art in the university’s collection.

The course was supported by the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project in the Humanities Council, the Department of Art and Archaeology, the Program in Latin American Studies, and the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities. Programmatic and logistical support was also provided by the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Operations.

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