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Sydney Biennale announces its 2018 program called ‘Superposition’ (It’s a quantum mechanical term)

The Biennale of Sydney has announced the 70 artists who will present work at seven venues across Sydney for the 45th anniversary of the event to be held from March 16 until June 11, 2018.

The curatorial theme for next year’s biennale is “SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium & Engagementwhich, like most catch-all curatorial themes, can be interpreted in many ways.

The  21st Biennale of Sydney will be held at at the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW), Artspace, Carriageworks, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), Sydney Opera House and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

Its artistic director, Mami Kataoka (pictured above by Daniel Boud) says that many of the artworks are the result of “direct engagement with communities around the globe and reflect the artists’ own migrations or personal histories”.

In a statement Kataoka said: “The 21st Biennale of Sydney examines the world today by borrowing the word ‘superposition’, the quantum mechanical term that refers to an overlapping situation. Microscopic substances like electrons are said to be dualistic in nature: they paradoxically exist in the form of waves and granular particles simultaneously. The state of ‘superposition’ lies across all conceptual levels: from different climates and cultures to views of nature and the cosmic orders, conceptions of Mother Earth and interpretations of land ownership, readings of human history and conditions, the history of modern and contemporary art and the meaning of abstractions. The 21st Biennale of Sydney offers a panoramic view of how they all come together in a state of ’equilibrium,’ while delving into the workings of individual phenomena, considering the equivalence of these opposing notions through the lens of “engagement.”

The Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW)  will “reflect on the Biennale’s rich history through a close examination of its archive, drawing on more than four decades of encounters with art from around the globe.  In addition to the archive project, the AGNSW will present 17 artists across the gallery including celebrated Australian artists Sydney Ball, Roy Wiggan and Roy de Maistre. Paintings by Wathaurung elder Marlene Gilson overturn the colonial grasp on Australia’s past by representing the involvement of Aboriginal people in significant historical events such as the 1854 Eureka Stockade. N.S. Harsha’s twelve-metre long mirrored commission, which assembles found cardboard packaging collected from around the world with 900 hand-carved teak elephants, will be presented alongside Cambodian art collective Sa Sa Art Projects’ collaborative work on the history of the recently demolished White Building in Phnom Penh”.

Artspace in Woolloomooloo will host five artists for the Biennale , including Flemish painter Michaël Borremans who will exhibit a selection of video works, paintings and drawings. Ai Weiwei’s Crystal Ball, 2017, “considers the complex future of our world in the face of the current global humanitarian crisis”. Indian artist Tanya Goel will present a selection of paintings and fresco works alongside a site-specific wall drawing. China’s Geng Xue exhibits a video work, Poetry of Michelangelo, 2015, that “evokes the conversation between artist and creation”, whilst Vietnamese artist Tiffany Chung will show an embroidered textile map and other artworks delineating the patterns of diaspora.

At Carriageworks,  UK-based duo Semiconductor will present a “five-channel video work exploring the material nature of our world and how we experience it through the lens of science and technology”.

Vietnam’s Trinh Thi Nguyen, Pintupi artist George Tjungurrayi and Chinese artist Chen Shaoxiong will also show works at the venue.

On Cockatoo Island, 20 artists will present works “echoing the history of the UNESCO-listed site around movement, migration, production and participation, including works that grow or morph over the course of the Biennale”. These include Ai Weiwei’s Law of the Journey, 2017 (pictured below), a 60-metre inflatable boat “filled with more than 250 oversized figures, made from the same rubber used to manufacture the precarious vessels that carry refugees across the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece, will fill a cavernous space on the Island”.

Aix-Weiwei_Law-of-the-Journey_2017

Thai artist, Mit Jai Inn will create a series of new works in which the visible process of creation will be as important as the final product. Sydney artist Yasmin Smith will create a ceramics studio and open-air kiln alongside a ceramic installation featuring cast mangrove branches finished in a hand-made wood ash glaze and Melbourne artist Nicholas Mangan will present a work which “dismantles accepted histories to reveal the complex dynamic between human action and the state of nature”. Scottish artist Anya Gallaccio’s sculptural work will comprise a 3D printed clay mountain range, whilst Thai artist Tawatchai Puntusawasdi will present metal sculptures and two-dimensional drawings as a replica of his studio.

The Island will host a series of site-specific large-scale installations: in the Turbine Hall, Japan’s Yukinori Yanagi will present Icarus Container, 2018, an “immersive maze-like artwork created with shipping containers that will use mirrors to reflect the light of the sun”. Japanese-born, Sydney-based artist Koji Ryui will present a site-specific work that “expands on his experimentation with geometric abstraction and the spatial potential of everyday objects”. British artist Ryan Gander will install a new commission, “creating his own universe with replica models of artefacts from his life”. Lebanese-born, Sydney-based artist Khaled Sabsabi presents Bring the Silence, 2018, a “five-channel audio visual installation that offers an intimate insight into practiced customs at sacred Sufi burial sites”.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) will present the work of 18 artists including Australian artist Brook Andrew with a new commission of five sculptures, “each representing one of the five elements of the universe according to the philosophy of Wuxing – central to the 21st Biennale of Sydney curatorial concept”. 

12x_Brook-Andrew_Tombs-of-Thought-II_Earth_2016-17
Brook Andrew’s “Tomb of Thought II Earth”(2016-17)

The MCA exhibition features Ngarrindjeri artist Yvonne Koolmatrie’s intricate sedge-woven burial baskets, a new work by Yarrenyty Arltere Artists from the Western Arrernte community arts enterprise in Alice Springs and shell-worked slippers by Bidjigal artist and elder Esme Timbery. 

From Finland, Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen will present a new commission, continuing his “research-driven practice which scrutinises global systems, focusing on the correlation between large-scale networks and local events utilising light, sound installation and the moving image”. 

American artist Liza Lou collaborates with KwaZulu-Natal women to present hand-woven bead installation representing clouds, while Australian artist Tom Nicholson will “add to an existing wall drawing: a matrix of painstakingly handwritten words narrating a geo-political history of the 20th century”. 

Canadian artist Ciara Phillips presents a working printmaking studio and Swiss artist Marc Bauer will present an installation incorporating a site-specific wall drawing, works on paper and ceramics. Hong Kong artist Nicole Wong will exhibit marble works that draw on google searches.

The Sydney Opera House will co-present the Biennale’s keynote address by Ai Weiwei on March 15. The Sydney premiere of Ai Weiwei’s new feature-length film Human Flow, 2017  his exploration of the global refugee crisis, filmed over the course of a year in 23 countries – will also be presented there on March 15.

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art will present a video work that documents a “participatory event by Japanese theatre-director and artist Akira Takayama who has invited residents of Sydney to perform a song passed down through their family”  at Sydney Town Hall. 

FULL LIST OF ARTISTS BY VENUE:

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Born 1959 in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Lives and works in Helsinki, Finland

Sydney Ball: Born 1933 in Adelaide, Australia. Died 2017 in Sydney, Australia

Oliver Beer: Born 1985 in England. Lives and works in Paris, France and Kent, England

Miriam Cahn: Born 1949 in Basel, Switzerland. Lives and works in Stampa, Switzerland

Francisco Camacho Herrera: Born 1979 in Bogota, Colombia. Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) with Baloji and Renzo Martens: Founded in 2014

Roy de Maistre: Born 1894 in Bowral, Australia. Died 1968 in London, England

Lili Dujourie: Born 1941 in Roeselare, Belgium. Lives and works in Lovendegem, Belgium

Luciano Fabro: Born 1936 in Turin, Italy. Died 2007 in Milan, Italy

Marlene Gilson: Born 1944 in Warrnambool, Victoria. Lives and works in Gordon, Victoria. Wathaurung people

N.S. Harsha: Born 1969 in Mysore, India. Lives and works in Mysore

Noguchi Rika: Born 1971 in Saitama, Japan. Lives and works in Okinawa, Japan

Sa Sa Art Projects: Founded in 2010. Live and work in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Semiconductor: Founded in 1999. Live and work in Brighton, England

Roy Wiggan: Born 1930 in Sunday Island, Australia. Died 2015 in Broome, Australia. Bardi people

Riet Wijnen: Born 1988 in Venray, The Netherlands. Lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Samson Young: Born 1979 in Hong Kong. Lives and works in Hong Kong

Biennale of Sydney Archive 

Artspace

Ai Weiwei: Born 1957 in Beijing, China. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Michaël Borremans: Born 1963 in Geraardsbergen, Belgium. Lives and works in Ghent, Belgium

Tiffany Chung: Born 1969 in Da Nang, Vietnam. Lives and works in Houston, USA and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Geng Xue: Born 1983 in Baishan, China. Lives and works in Beijing, China

Tanya Goel: Born 1985 in New Delhi, India. Lives and works in New Delhi

Carriageworks

Chen Shaoxiong: Born 1962 in Shantou, Guangdong Province, China. Died 2016 in Beijing, China

Sam Falls: Born in 1984 San Diego, USA. Lives and works Los Angeles

Marco Fusinato: Born 1964 in Melbourne, Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne

Laurent Grasso: Born 1972 in Mulhouse, France Lives and works in Paris, France and New York, USA

Trinh Thi Nguyen: Born 1973 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Lives and works in Hanoi

Semiconductor: Founded in 1999. Live and work in Brighton, England

Michael Stevenson: Born 1964 in Inglewood, New Zealand. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

George Tjungurrayi: Born c.1943 in Kiwirrkura, Australia. Lives and works in Kintore, Australia. Pintupi people

Cockatoo Island 

Julian Abraham ‘Togar’: Born 1987 in Medan, Indonesia. Lives and works in Medan and Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Ai Weiwei: Born 1957 in Beijing, China. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Abraham Cruzvillegas: Born 1968 in Mexico City, Mexico. Lives and works in Mexico City

Anya Gallaccio: Born 1963 in Paisley, Scotland. Lives and works in London, England and San Diego, USA

Ryan Gander: Born 1976 in Chester, England. Lives and works in London, England

Ami Inoue: Born 1991 in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. Lives and works in Kyoto, Japan

Mit Jai Inn: Born 1960 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Lives and works in Chiang Mai

Suzanne Lacy: Born 1945 in Wasco, USA. Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA

Nicholas Mangan: Born 1979 in Geelong, Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia

Prabhavathi Meppayil: Born 1965 in Bangalore, India. Lives and works in Bangalore

Kate Newby: Born 1979 in Auckland, New Zealand. Lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand and New York, USA

Tawatchai Puntusawasdi: Born 1971 in Bangkok, Thailand. Lives and works in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Koji Ryui: Born 1976 in Kyoto, Japan. Lives and works in Sydney, Australia

Khaled Sabsabi: Born 1965 in Tripoli, Lebanon. Lives and works in Sydney, Australia

Yasmin Smith: Born 1984 in Sydney, Australia. Lives and works in Sydney

Dimitar Solakov: Born 1987 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Lives and works in Sofia

Su-Mei Tse: Born 1973 in Luxembourg. Lives and works in Luxembourg

Martin Walde: Born 1957 in Innsbruck, Austria. Lives and works in Vienna, Austria

Wong Hoy Cheong: Born 1960 in Penang, Malaysia. Lives and works in George Town and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Yanagi Yukinori: Born 1959 in Fukuoka, Japan. Lives and works in Hiroshima, Japan

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Brook Andrew: Born 1970 in Sydney, Australia. Lives and works Berlin, Germany; Melbourne, Australia; and Oxford, England

Marc Bauer: Born 1975 in Geneva, Switzerland. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Zurich, Switzerland

Marjolijn Dijkman: Born 1978 in Groningen, Netherlands. Lives and works in Brussels, Belgium

Simryn Gill: Born 1959 in Singapore. Lives and works in Port Dickson, Malaysia and Sydney, Australia

Hsu Chia-Wei: Born 1983 in Taichung, Taiwan. Lives and works in Taipei, Taiwan

Sosa Joseph: Born 1971 in Parumala, India. Lives and works in Kochi, India

Jacob Kirkegaard: Born 1975 in Esbjerg, Denmark Lives and works in Jyderup, Denmark

Yvonne Koolmatrie: Born 1944 in Wudinna, Australia. Lives and works in Berri, Australia. Ngarrindjeri people

Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen: Born 1976 in Riihimäki, Finland. Lives and works in Helsinki, Finland

Liza Lou: Born 1969 in New York, USA. Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Tom Nicholson: Born 1973 in Melbourne, Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne

Ciara Phillips: Born 1976 in Ottawa, Canada. Lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland

Svay Sareth: Born 1972 in Battambang, Cambodia. Lives and works in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Maria Taniguchi: Born 1981 in Dumaguete City, Philippines. Lives and works in Manila, Philippines

Esme Timbery: Born 1931 in Port Kembla, Australia. Lives and works in La Perouse, Australia. Bidjigal people

Nicole Wong: Born 1990 in Hong Kong. Lives and works in Hong Kong

Haegue Yang: Born 1971 in Seoul, South Korea. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Seoul

Yarrenyty Arltere Artists: Founded 2000. Alice Springs, Australia

Sydney Opera House

Oliver Beer: Born 1985 in Kent, England. Lives and works in Paris, France and Kent, England

Rayyane Tabet: Born 1983 in Ashqout, Lebanon. Lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Akira Takayama: Born 1969 in Saitama, Japan. Lives and works in Tokyo, Japan; Yokohama, Japan; and Frankfurt, Germany

Jun Yang: Born 1975 in Qingtian, China. Lives and works in Vienna, Austria; Taipei, Taiwan; and Yokohama, Japan 

6 responses to “Sydney Biennale announces its 2018 program called ‘Superposition’ (It’s a quantum mechanical term)

  1. And if asked the Biennale would say something like: “We just have the room or resources to represent more artists.”

    Which sounds exactly like what the Western countries would say about refugees! I propose a radical reversal of thought.

    1. Sadly true… we live in a world of excluding, refusing and discarding. Sadly affluence has a reverse effect on expanding our compassion.

  2. All Art Curating is about EXCLUSION. Instead of us focusing on the “lucky few” artists mentioned here LET US think about the 99% of artists EXCLUDED hey?

    Could we say that the EXCLUSIONARY tactics of our GOVERNMENT ART mirror exactly the exclusionary tactics of the WEST towards migrants??!! Think about it!!

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