Public access was restricted to an installation by artist Ibrahim Mahama at Bienal de São Paulo after an “unsupervised child” tripped over the work, breaking is arm in two places, according to a report from The Art Newspaper.
The installation, Parliament of Ghosts (2023), is a central focus of the biennial. One of the main components is a 1950’s-era stretch railroad track that was recovered from the Ghana Railway Company. The track is one of the many pieces of Ghanian infrastructure Mahama purchased form that countries government that he planned to turn into “sculptures and education spaces.” The installation was first displayed by Whitworth Gallery in Manchester as part of the 2019 Manchester International Festival.
The accident took place on September 8. Parliament of Ghosts was intended to be interactive and until the child fell, visitors to the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion at Ibirapuera Park were encouraged to touch and even walk on the installation.
The unsupervised boy was walking on the installation when he tripped on a section of the tracks. His mother, Ana Maria Fiorini, a São Paulo-based book editor, was nearby but did not see the accident happen. She told the Folha de São Paulo that the biennial staff should have paid better attention to the work. “He was lucky he didn’t hit his head on the track,” she said, as quoted by the Art Newspaper. “One blow could even be fatal.”
Access to the tracks have been restricted “as a precautionary measure.” The biennial’s organizers said in a statement: “Unfortunately, there was an incident despite the work being supervised by a public advisor and a large audience in that space.”