Sydney Biennial

Inspired by a comment by science-fiction author William Gibson, the title of the twentieth Biennale of Sydney, The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed, suggested that technology had already surpassed our ideas of the future, and served as a reminder that access to information, the internet and other more basic resources is not universal. The 2016 edition took place across seven distinct ‘embassies of thought’, designated as safe spaces for thinking, and reflected on immigration politics. Named after themes emerging from Rosenthal’s conversations with artists, the embassies were titled ‘Spirits’; ‘Non Participation’; ‘Translation’; ‘the Real’; ‘Transition’; ‘Disappearance’; and ‘Stanislaw Lem’. Twelve ‘in-between’ spaces – ranging from a library to a cemetery and a gap between two walls – provided further avenues through which to explore the distinction between the virtual and physical worlds, one of the key ideas of the exhibition. Performance featured strongly, with highlights including the Australian premiere of manger, 2014, by Boris Charmatz; Victory Over the Sun, 2016, a revisioning of the legendary 1913 Futurist (anti-) opera by Justene Williams with Sydney Chamber Opera; and Here, an Echo, 2016, a series of performances Agatha Gothe-Snape presented with dancer and choreographer Brooke Stamp. The project is now installed in Wemyss Lane, Surry Hills, as the second legacy project of the City of Sydney.

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