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  • Sep 09, 2020

The 23rd Biennale Of Sydney Reveals Artistic Director

JOSÉ ROCA will lead the 23rd Biennale of Sydney. Photo by Alejandra Quintero Sinisterra. Courtesy the Biennale of Sydney.

On September 9, the Biennale of Sydney (BoS) announced that it has appointed Colombian curator José Roca as the artistic director of its 23rd iteration, scheduled to take place from March 12 to June 13, 2022.

The relationship between art and nature has inspired Roca, currently the artistic director of the nonprofit art space FLORA ars+natura in Bogota, and will also be the focal point of the 23rd BoS. According to the press release, while the theme is still being developed, the Biennale will explore issues regarding sustainability and collaboration. This will include topics such as the rights of nature, territories inhabited by the Indigenous peoples of Australia, and waterways as a source of livelihood, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald

Prior to joining FLORA ars+natura, Roca was the Estrellita B. Brodsky adjunct curator of Latin American art at the Tate, London, and managed art programs at Bogota’s Museo de Arte Miguel Urrutia. He has also worked on various other international art festivals including as the chief curator of the 8th Bienal do Mercosul in Porto Alegre in 2011, the artistic director of Philadelphia’s Philagrafika in 2010, and as co-curator of the Poly/Graphic Triennial in San Juan in 2004.

Roca aims to reduce the BoS’s environmental impact as a whole, as the ongoing pandemic has made him reflect on issues in the art world, specifically its carbon footprint, according to ABC Arts. As Roca explained, “We should realise that the task of artists and cultural producers lies not only in raising awareness of these pressing issues . . . We must think of more sustainable ways to do exhibitions, work collaboratively with and for local audiences, and learn from the peoples that have lived in harmony with nature.” In the hopes of creating a smaller imprint on the environment, he plans to move to Sydney once travel bans are lifted and stay there until the end of the Biennale. He also wants to approach the selection of works in a sustainable manner, by “identify[ing] projects that are already underway and then provid[ing] the opportunity for that [project] to materialise,” instead of commissioning works specifically for the Biennale.

The team of curators for the upcoming Biennale will include Paschal Daantos Berry, head of Learning and Participation at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney; Anna Davis, curator of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney; Hannah Donnelly, producer at Information + Cultural Exchange in Parramatta; and Talia Linz, curator of Artspace in Sydney.

Ariana Heffner is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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