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May 10 2017

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker Named as Director and CEO of Biennale of Sydney

by Jonathan Chong

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker was appointed director and CEO of the Biennale of Sydney. Photo by Mark Woods. Courtesy Biennale of Sydney. 

The Biennale of Sydney (BoS) recently announced its new director and chief executive officer in museum veteran Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, following a months-long search for a replacement after former CEO Ben Strout resigned in late 2016.

The Brisbane-born Birnie Danzker served as director of the Frye Art Museum in Seattle from 2009 to 2016, and has previously assumed director positions at the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich and the Vancouver Art Gallery. A seasoned curator, she also curated exhibitions at institutions including the Deutsche Guggenheim and Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and MoMA PS1 and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The Biennale’s Board was delighted to confirm the appointment of Birnie Danzker, according to Kate Mills, chairman of the BoS. “The selection committee unanimously agreed that Jo-Anne’s leadership skills and experience in directing large-scale international exhibitions and cross-disciplinary curatorial teams will be a tremendous asset to the Biennale of Sydney as it expands its domestic and international presence, strengthens its curatorial voice and builds commissioning partnerships nationally and internationally.” Conversely, Birnie Danzker praised Mami Kataoka, the 21st BoS artistic director—the first Asian curator to be appointed to the role—for her curatorial vision, stating: “Mami’s examination of multiple modernities and competing and colliding values is important and timely.”

Birnie Danzker will assume leadership on July 1. The upcoming BoS will celebrate its 45th year in 2018, opening its 21st edition on March 16 with artists including Ai Weiwei, Brook Andrew, NS Harsha and Haegue Yang. 

Jonathan Chong is associate editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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