MST intervenes against agribusiness in a prime space at the 34th Bienal de São Paulo

The action is part of the installation of the work "Deposition", on a separate stand used in a round of trading of commodities in the CBOT financial market, USA
Intervention at the 34th Bienal Internacional de São Paulo. Photo: Gui Frodu

From the MST Page

This Thursday night (November 11th), dozens of activists occupied the programming of the 34th São Paulo International Biennial, carrying out a performative intervention against agribusiness. The action included the participation of theater groups and popular movements, including the collective Dolores Boca Aberta, Brava Cia, Cia Antropofágica, Cia Estudos de Cena and Cia Canina, the Popular Uprising of Youth, the Movement of Workers for Rights (MTD) and the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

The intervention was carried out by integrating the programming created as “Wheel of Negotiations”, envisioned as a space for dialogue with the public based on the work “Deposition”, by artists Daniel de Paula (BR), Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter, United States (USA). The work brings the trading wheel of the Chicago Board of Trade – CBOT, on a platform separated from the octagonal bleachers used for trading investments and commodities, brought especially for the exhibition.

Currently, the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) is the main financial institution in the world related to agricultural commodities, being also the oldest, founded in 1848, and a reference for the prices of future products traded on the world market, highlighting products such as corn, soybeans and wood. Based on this reference, dismembering the Chicago Stock Exchange’s financial agents’ platform as an artistic expression evokes a desire to break with a scenario that has relations of exploitation as a background.

Since the dismemberment of its original status, “Deposition” integrates its nature with the space of interventions and recreation of the “Round of Negotiations of Auctions”, the MST enters the challenging scenario of the arts to criticize the agro-export model combined with the production of agribusiness that produces profit, but does not produce food, “where [negotiation] circles such as this were the stage for the perpetuation of the condition of colonialism imposed by the main capitalist countries, and which accentuate social inequalities and hunger to the present day”, states Kelli Mafort, of the MST national leadership of the MST.

Denunciation of hunger caused by the agro-export productive model at the 34 Bienal Internacional de SP. Photo: Gui Frodu

“The MST denounces the deadly role of agribusiness at the International Biennial of Arts. We hope to draw society’s attention to the terrible demonstration of hunger in the country that claims to be the breadbasket of the world” declared Mafort about the intervention, pointing out that agribusiness is largely responsible for Brazil’s backwardness. “The tech and pop clothing disguises the greatest institutionalized theft in our country’s history.”

Kelli enumerates reasons in opposition to the disseminated positivist discourse on agribusiness. “Agro tech sets the Amazon on fire for the expansion of agricultural and pastoral frontiers with the objective of exporting. Agro-pop is against the people because it doesn’t produce food, it produces commodities. Agro is unpopular in that it expels families from the countryside and impedes the diversity of food crops. Agro tech poisons the soil, water, subsoil, air, crops.”

One of the authors of the work mentioned that “there is no intention of making the stands a monument or of preserving it as a historical object”, said Daniel de Paula. “It is well known that we are at a political moment in Brazil where there is agricultural expansion stimulated by financial speculation. This promotes various forms of violence, from deforestation to land grabbing, violence against local communities. And all of these are, let’s say, the result of the dynamics of this financial market that took place in this structure”, added Daniel, in confluence with the critical interventions of the act.

*Edited by Fernanda Alcântara