Flying Under the Radar: Biennial of the Arts    Rio de Janeiro x San Francisco

The Flying Under the Radar Biennial

Multidisciplinary, Multicultural Artistic Experimentation in Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco


While there are many useful precedents from music festivals, art biennials and artist residencies, the Flying Under the Radar Biennial offers an important innovation: the artists themselves will determine not only the nature of the work, but the context for its presentation. It is crucial that artists have this opportunity to formulate their own interface so they can reinvent their practices and develop a presentation not shaped by institutional norms, national identity, or curatorial impulse. Making room for artists in this case means creating a fresh opening for their vision to materialize in society so that artists themselves can have the greatest possible impact on the world we share. 

In epochs past and present, societies open to outside influences have become sources of widespread innovation, and the dynamic nature of opportunity that marks these sorts of societies has always attracted large numbers of individuals involved in the domain of the arts. For many artists it is the observation of local issues and phenomena that stirs passion, and artists dealing with local themes in Rio and San Francisco have produced, with regularity, extraordinary works of literature and art. Some of these artists and authors have gained renown for their attention to local concerns, but most remain largely unknown. It is these undervalued artists, whose community-based voices pose larger social and personal questions, who will be the focus of Flying Under the Radar.

Propagating conversations of this kind will nurture processes that can resonate across international borders and bring disparate, distant communities together. In concert with organizational and artistic partners in Rio and San Francisco, the festival aims to overcome divisions created by global power imbalances and to promote cross-fertilization of artistic practices in the Americas. Communication among artists with similar concerns will illuminate commonality and help reduce the negative effects of nationalism and the so-called North/South divide. In its debut, Flying Under the Radar will bring together a diverse community of artists from Brazil and the United States, but the festival can be a model for increasing communication between established and emerging economies. Any nation or community wishing to increase cross-cultural communication could adopt its innovative, modular structure. 


Artists will collaborate in pairs, each Brazilian working directly with a counterpart from the Bay Area, e.g., Brazilian poet with American visual artist, American saxophonist with Brazilian choreographer. Artists were introduced online in the summer of 2015 and have begun corresponding remotely. The new project of Flying Under the Radar, FUTR OnAir, will occur simultaneously in Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco. It will be a three hour session including the work of three pairs of artists; three of them situated in Rio and three in San Francisco.

San Francisco and Rio are logical partners with many similarities, physical as well as cultural. Each exists in an extraordinary natural setting, possesses a unique cultural identity, has an important presence in worldwide trade, and boasts a wealth of highly regarded artistic and educational institutions. Of all the common characteristics Rio and San Francisco share, the most salient is the ongoing tradition of accepting outsiders into their midst. From their founding, waves of immigrants from within and without national borders have arrived in these metropolises and their surrounding areas seeking opportunity, and many have found places for themselves in the fabric of urban society. The multicultural, multiethnic populations rising out of hundreds of years of immigration have been instrumental in transforming both of these port cities into crucibles of social change.