20th Biennale of Sydney unveils works by 83 artists from 35 countries presented across seven ‘Embassies of Thought’

Art Announcement from Australia. Published by anonymous on Tuesday 15 March 2016.

20th Biennale of Sydney unveils works by 83 artists from 35 countries presented across seven ‘Embassies of Thought’ image

The Asia Pacific region’s largest contemporary visual arts event features 83 artists hailing from 35 countries and is presented free to the public across seven venues or ‘Embassies of Thought’ and multiple ‘in-between spaces’ around the inner city, from Friday 18 March until 5 June 2016.

The exhibition is supplemented by a comprehensive schedule of public programs including daily guided tours, artist and curator-led talks, lectures, workshops, salons, reading groups and gatherings.

Artistic Director Stephanie Rosenthal commented: “The ‘Embassies of Thought’ in the 20th Biennale have been conceived as temporary settings without set borders, representing transient homes for constellations of thought. The themes associated with each of these ‘embassies’ are inspired by the individual histories of each venue, whilst the ‘in between’ spaces speak to one of the key ideas in this Biennale exploring the distinction between the virtual and the physical worlds. We’re asking visitors to consider our interaction with the digital world, as well our displacement from and occupation of spaces and land, along with the interconnections between politics and financial power structures.”

The Biennale’s seven ‘Embassies of Thought’ are: Cockatoo Island (Embassy of the Real); Art Gallery of New South Wales (Embassy of Spirits); Carriageworks (Embassy of Disappearance); Artspace (Embassy of Non-Participation); Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Embassy of Translation); a roving bookshop (Embassy of Stanislaw Lem) and first time venue Mortuary Station (Embassy of Transition).

Performance is an integral part of the 20th Biennale, presented at each embassy and at in-between locations by artists including: boychild, Boris Charmatz, Neha Choksi, Mette Edvardsen, Mella Jaarsma, Lee Mingwei, Adam Linder, and Justene Williams, who is collaborating with Sydney Chamber Opera.

More than half of the 200 artworks in the exhibition have been specially commissioned for the 20th Biennale of Sydney. More than a third of artworks are presented at venues in Sydney’s inner west.

In addition to artworks presented across the seven embassies, the 20th Biennale commissioned twelve site-specific projects taking place at locations throughout inner Sydney, including a new work by Swedish artist Bo Christian Larsson that will unfold over the course of three months at Camperdown Cemetery. In a former gallery space in Redfern, artist collective Brown Council (Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, Kelly Doley and Diana Smith) present a new participatory performance about how we recall the past and imagine the future.

Carriageworks, the Embassy of Disappearance brings together works by artists exploring themes of absence and memory, including disappearing languages, histories, currencies and landscapes. Artists presenting work at this Embassy include

Lauren Brincat, Neha Choksi, Yannick Dauby and Wan-Shuen Tsai, Minouk Lim, Yuta Nakamura, Jamie North, Bernardo Ortiz, Mike Parr and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

The 20th Biennale of Sydney Keynote Address will be presented by leading performer, choreographer and radical innovator of dance, Boris Charmatz, on Saturday 19 March at Carriageworks. Over the past twenty years he has explored the relationship between art
and philosophy, challenging preconceived notions of dance in the process. Charmatz has presented work in numerous contexts internationally – in theatres, festivals, and at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Tate Modern, London. Tickets to the Keynote Address also include entry to a one-off performance and Australian premiere of Charmatz’s work manger (2014).

Cockatoo Island hosts the Embassy of the Real, with the former convict settlement and shipyard offering a space for artists to explore how we perceive reality in our increasingly digitised era. Artists will consider the spaces between the virtual and physical, as well as the physicality of the human body, with major works by Korakrit Arunanondchai, Lee Bul, Cevdet Erek, Cécile B. Evans, William Forsythe, Camille Henrot, Chiharu Shiota, Ming Wong, and Xu Zhen (Produced by MadeIn Company).

Artists exhibiting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Embassy of Spirits explore the intersection between the spiritual and the philosophical, including works concerned with personal and religious rituals. Works presented at the Embassy of Spirits by Johanna Calle, Sheila Hicks, Mella Jaarsma, Jumana Manna, Sudarshan Shetty, Taro Shinoda and Nyapanyapa Yunupingu can also be considered in conversation with the Gallery’s rich collection of Asian and Indigenous Australian artworks.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is transformed into the Embassy of Translation, bringing together a selection of works that contextualise historical positions, concepts and artefacts, alongside contemporary concerns and working methods. While relying on a range of different strategies, each work considers history as one material among others, restaging and reimagining it as part of the process. Artists presenting work at the MCA include Nina Beier, Noa Eshkol, Helen Marten, and Dayanita Singh.

The Embassy of Non-Participation is located at Artspace in Woolloomooloo, a former artists’ squat now renowned as a site for experimentation. For the 20th Biennale of Sydney, artist duo Karen Mirza and Brad Butler have taken over Artspace, considering the act of ‘non- participation’ as an active and critical position.

A first time venue for the Biennale of Sydney, Mortuary Station in Chippendale has been reimagined as the Embassy of Transition. Works by two artists, Marco Chiandetti and Charwei Tsai will be shown here, and in different ways they each engage with cycles of life and death, as well as rites of passage.

The Embassy of Stanislaw Lem which takes form as a roving book-stall, that will reappear at various locations throughout the Biennale. Chong’s work develops out of a process of accumulation; he has gathered together second-hand copies of Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem’s books (in both English and Polish), which will be available for visitors to both peruse and purchase.