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21st Biennale of Sydney appoints first Asian Artistic Director

21st Biennale of Sydney appoints first Asian Artistic Director
July 5, 2016

The Biennale of Sydney has announced Mami Kataoka of Tokyo's Mori Art Museum (MAM) as the Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney to be held in 2018.

Kataoka, MAM’s acclaimed Chief Curator at the Mori Art Museum (MAM) in Tokyo, is the first curator from Asia to be appointed as Artistic Director of the Biennale of Sydney.

No stranger to Australia (having been one of 13 eminent international advisors to this year’s 20th edition and with strong connections to local curators and artists), Kataoka is a key figure in analysing socio-historical and generational trends within Japanese and Asian art.

Announcing the appointment, Biennale of Sydney Chair Kate Mills stated “we are delighted with Mami Kataoka’s appointment as Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney.

“As one of the region’s most accomplished curators, Mami will bring a truly fresh perspective and an Asian sensibility to the exhibition in 2018, enabling Biennale artists and audiences to explore in greater depth our relationship with the Asia Pacific region and challenge conventional wisdoms.”

Welcoming her appointment, Kataoka added “I am honoured to be appointed Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney in 2018, especially being the first from Asia since the Biennale’s inauguration in 1973; this means a lot to me and hopefully to the region.

“I am especially interested in the role that the Biennale has played in bringing international contemporary art, artists and art curators to Australia for more than 40 years.

“Australia and the city of Sydney are multicultural, with a number of contemporary art institutions active internationally.

“As Artistic Director I am interested to ask how we can test the Biennale’s significance given the growing understanding of multiple modernities; the many socio-political contexts and accelerated complexities in the world conditions today.”

Kataoka’s appointment has been welcomed for addressing the Eurocentric vision of the Biennale of Sydney over the past 44 years. She is also the sixth female Artistic Director to take the reigns of theinternational exhibition.

The Biennale of Sydney been through a number of challenges in recent years, with the artist boycott of founding sponsor Transfield Holdings in 2014; a change of headquarters, primary sponsor and partner venues in 2016; and the announcement of rival event The National (a biennale style event across the partner venues of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW and Carriageworks) earlier this year in Sydney.

Image of Mami Kataoka by Daniel Boud. 

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