Anozero – Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art is an initiative which was proposed in 2015 by the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra (CAPC), and is organized in conjunction with Coimbra City Council and the University of Coimbra. Its main objective is to encourage reflection on the occasion of the University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia being classified as World Heritage by UNESCO.
The biennial emerges as an attempt to understand the symbolic and tangible meaning of the city’s new circumstances – bearer of the status of World Heritage – and proposes a confrontation between contemporary art and heritage, exploring the risks and the multiple possibilities associated with this cultural heritage that is now for all Humanity.
Anozero, therefore, is a programme of action for the city which, by systematically questioning the territory to which it belongs, can contribute to building an active and culturally transformative era for Coimbra and the Central Region.
The new edition of the biennial is titled A Terceira Margem / The Third Bank and has Agnaldo Farias as chief curator and Lígia Afonso and Nuno de Brito Rocha as associate curators. Its name is borrowed from the title of the short story "The Third Bank of the River" (1962) by João Guimarães Rosa, one of the most important Brazilian writers of the 20th century.
The story, narrated by the son, tells of a father who lives in a village by the river but decides to have a canoe built, get into it and never leave it again. This self-exclusion under the open sky, a personal decision by the protagonist for which he offers no explanation to either family or community, constitutes an extreme gesture of irreversible occupation. It is this gesture that defines the territory, tremendous, unstable, unfathomable and unspeakable, of the third bank that is our contemporaneity.
Five sentences taken from the tale serve as the conceptual axis for the possible unfolding of the biennial and will be interpreted by means of a plurality of voices: curators, artists, authors and students from the University of Coimbra. They suggest silence – father said nothing; transition – beyond the possibility of seeing or being seen; marginality – travellers along the river and people living near the bank; invention – put his invention to use; and finally militancy – muster courage.
A Terceira Margem / The Third Bank rests on three pillars: an exhibition, an activation programme and a book. The exhibition features works by 39 international artists, half of which are commissioned, and is spread throughout various places in the city, activating its architectural and intangible heritage, partially qualified by UNESCO. In addition to occupying the spectacular Santa Clara-a-Nova Convent, the biennial extends into the city centre streets (Edifício Chiado, Sala da Cidade and Avenida Cinema), the buildings of the University of Coimbra (Colégio das Artes and Museum of Science – Laboratório Chimico and Natural History Gallery) and the venues of the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra (CAPC Headquarters and Sereia).
The activation programme is carried out by the students of the Master’s in Curatorial Studies of the Colégio das Artes of the University of Coimbra in collaboration with Esfera CAPC. This programme strengthens Anozero's bond with the city, its residents and the university, provides students with in-context training and ensures laboratory activation of its exhibition content.
The book brings together essays by the participating artists specifically created for this format, to which are added texts by Clara Rowland, Isabel Carvalho, João Paulo Borges Coelho, Peter Pál Pelbart and Samuel Titan.
The participating artists are Alexandra Pirici, Ana María Montenegro, Ana Vaz, Anna Boghiguian, António Olaio, Belén Uriel, Bouchra Khalili, Bruno Zhu, Cadu, Daniel Melim, Daniel Senise, David Claerbout, Eugénia Mussa, Joanna Piotrowska, João Gabriel, João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva, José Bechara, José Spaniol, Julius von Bismarck, Laura Vinci, Luis Felipe Ortega, Luís Lazaro Matos, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Magdalena Jitrik, Maria Condado, Mariana Caló and Francisco Queimadela, Marilá Dardot, Mattia Denisse, Maya Watanabe, Meriç Algün, Przemek Pyszczek, Renato Ferrão, Rita Ferreira, Steve McQueen, Susan Hiller and Tomás Cunha Ferreira.
Tomás Cunha Ferreira, participating artist in the biennial, presents the parallel curation of ShipShape, an exhibition around visual, concrete and experimental poetry.
The inauguration of A Terceira Margem/The Third Bank takes place on 2 November and features performances by Luís Lázaro Matos and artist in residence Daniel Melim and also an ongoing action by Alexandra Pirici.