Brook Andrew Announced as Artistic Director for 2020 Biennale of Sydney
By Michael Young
On June 19, the Biennale of Sydney (BoS) named Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist Brook Andrew the artistic director of its 22nd edition, slated to open in 2020.
The artistic director of the 21st BoS, Mami Kataoka—who is chief curator of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo—was the first Asian to assume the mantle in BoS’s 45-year history. Kataoka’s 2018 edition closed on June 11; the Biennale’s board basked in the record-breaking number of 850,000 visitors—a staggering 200,000 more than its 2016 edition.
For BoS 2020, Andrew will become the first Australian of Indigenous heritage to take on the role. He was selected by a search committee, which included Sook-Kyung Lee, senior research curator at Tate Research Centre: Asia in London; Suhanya Raffel, executive director, M+, Hong Kong; and Aaron Seeto, director of MACAN Museum, Jakarta. The BoS’s exhibition partners—the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia—were also consulted.
On his appointment, Andrew commented: “I am honored to be appointed artistic director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney in 2020. As artistic director, I am interested in shining a light on the active, stable and rich pre-existing collaborations and connectivity of Indigenous and Edge cultures. I aim to work together with artists, collectives and communities, from Australia and around the globe, to reconfigure the world as we see it, and reveal rich local and global rhizomes and unique individual cultural expressions in one place.”
Andrew’s own artistic practice includes installations with text, images, as well as found and appropriated materials from archival collections. His works often interrogate colonialism in Australia and beyond, and the historical representations of Indigenous Australians, anchoring such investigations in Wiradjuri imagery (Andrew is of Wiradjuri Aboriginal descent). One of the standout inclusions in Kataoka’s biennale was Andrew’s What’s Left Behind (2018), made in collaboration with four other artists. The installation, which was on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, comprises five vitrines packed with objects that reflect on memory, absence and the construction of history.
Jo-Anne Birnie-Danzker, BoS’s director and CEO, said: “Brook Andrew’s commitment to alternative narratives and new understandings of historical legacies will further strengthen the Biennale’s commitment to the rich, diverse communities it serves, nationally and globally.”
Michael Young is a contributing editor of ArtAsiaPacific.
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