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Torkwase Dyson

Torkwase Dyson, Blackbasebeingbeyond, (2023), © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Torkwase Dyson is a participant in the thirty-fifth edition of Bienal de São Paulo, featuring 120 artists. Curated by art historian and former Reina Sofía director Manuel Borja-Villel, artist Grada Kilomba, independent curator Diane Lima, and anthropologist Hélio Menezes, the Bienal is titled “Choreographies of the Impossible” and features Black, Indigenous, and non-white artists and artists from the Global South.

Featured in the Bienal is Dyson's Blackbasebeingbeyond (2023), which references to Castelo de Garcia d’Ávila / Forte de Garcia d’Ávila in Mata de São João, Bahia, Dyson asks: How did looking become extraordinary? In this 16th-century castle, that at its exterior overlooked the Atlantic Ocean and the sugar cane plantations of enslaved Indigenous peoples, and at its interior housed a double torture chamber whereby an imprisoned runaway slave would be subjected to the terror and death by a captured and starved animal, Dyson explores the ocular work of the hidden, obscured, concealed, or untraceable body. Dyson’s sculptures are instruments for new and yet unknown ways of seeing and tools to think about the “liveness” of those who died in captivity.


Working in painting, drawing, and sculpture, Torkwase Dyson combines expressive mark-making and geometric abstraction to explore the continuity between ecology, infrastructure, and architecture. Dyson deconstructs, distills, and interrogates the built environment, exploring how individuals, particularly black and brown people, negotiate, negate, and transform systems and spatial order. In projects such as I Belong to the Distance 3, (Force Multiplier), Dyson created sculptural and architectural installations that provide a platform for collaboration with other artists, dancers, and thinkers. Throughout her work and research, Dyson confronts issues of environmental liberation and envisions a path toward a more equitable future.