Island Sessions

Island Sessions consisted of a series of monthly field trips to Ilha do Presídio, from May to November 2013. Considered a gravitational force of the 9th Bienal do Mercosul | Porto Alegre, the Ilha do Presídio was a prison island for political detainees during the dictatorship years in Brazil. It's sole existing building, constructed in 1956, has been abandoned for some time and climate has withered away its architecture and access. But while Island Sessions anchored in Ilha do Presídio, the island was not a venue for site-specific art. Instead, this island was a reason to embark on a field trip that traveled through the untimeliness of invention, revisiting moments of un-welcomed radical thought and propelling new discoveries.

For each of these field trips, a group of approximately one dozen artists, intellectuals and educators were invited to join the boat ride and participate in the discussion session at the island. Each of the fellow sailors in Island Sessions contributed two pieces of writing: Perceptions on islands sent before the boat ride; and Reflections after the session at the island. Six commissioned texts on or about islands and prisons were commissioned as Inflections of the program; its authors were considered the captains of the boat. For each session, an artist was invited to contribute his or her visual Impressions on islands in general, and a session in particular. All these contributions were progressively published online, as the field trips to Ilha do Presídio took place.

Here is a homemade video showing aerial and ground views of Ilha do Presídio, as well as information inter-titles and program credits of Island Sessions.

While the island and these sessions were not readily accessible to the public, this online publication has since been the main platform to share Island Sessions with audiences of the 9th Bienal and beyond. During the Bienal’s exhibition period—from 13 September to 10 November 2013—the Fundação Vera Chaves Barcellos hosted a mainland meta-program of Island Session with fellow sailors and the general public. Audiences were encouraged to bring their own picnic setting, as well as ideas, readings, and songs on islands to read or sing along. These programs were held the Sunday immediately following each session. Please consult the calendar for details.