This May, the Biennale of Sydney, one of the world’s oldest contemporary art biennales, celebrated its 37th anniversary and launched the 17th edition, showcasing 166 established and emerging artists from 36 countries. Under the title ‘The Beauty of Distance – Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age’, the biennale embraces diverse perspectives to examine the notion of “distance”: the geographical distance between nations, the ideological distance between different cultures, the colonial distance between the colonizers and the colonized, the implicit distance between art and different experiences of life, and the critical and aesthetic spaces that allow art to exist and give it power. The aim, however, is not to further intensify any gaps or differences, but as David Elliott, artist director of the 17th edition explains: “to bring work from diverse cultures together, at the same time, on the equal playing field of contemporary art, where no culture can assume superiority over any other.”
The 17th Biennale of Sydney also sets out to create a conversation with Sydney and Australian history by bringing in more than 60 new works created especially for the city, including site-specific projects at such landmarks as the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Cockatoo Island, a former imperial prison and a dockyard for shipbuilding. Elliott showcases selections from the Museum of Contemporary Art’s collection that echo the biennale title, as well as works that touch on the theme of aboriginality, which, indeed, is not only limited to Australia but many other nations.
- Tue, 1 Jun 2010