press release


Sydney, Australia: The Biennale of Sydney has today announced the appointment of Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster as Joint Artistic Directors of the 18th Biennale of Sydney, which will be held from Wednesday, 27 June – Sunday, 16 September 2012.

‘We are delighted that Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster have accepted our invitation to become Joint Artistic Directors of the 18th Biennale of Sydney,’ says Marah Braye, Chief Executive Officer. ‘For the first time, the Biennale has appointed a curatorial duo to direct the exhibition and program. Both de Zegher and McMaster are dynamic and respected figures in their fields and have previously worked together to great acclaim. This promises to be an innovative collaboration and we look forward to building on the success of previous biennales to present an exciting and multi-faceted 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012.’

Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster have recently collaborated at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada, where they participated in the re-installation of the Gallery’s collection in the renovated museum building by Frank Gehry. De Zegher led the reinstallation of the European galleries and McMaster led the reinstallation of the Canadian wing. They have also worked together on the exhibition Draw & Tell: Lines of Transformation by Norval Morrisseau/Copper Thunderbird (2001) at The Drawing Center in New York.

Catherine de Zegher is a curator and writer, and is currently Guest Curator, Department of Drawings, Museum of Modern Art, New York and Visiting Curator, Tàpies Foundation, Barcelona. Until recently, de Zegher was Director of Exhibitions and Publications, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. For many years, she was the Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Drawing Center, New York (1999–2006) and co-founder and Director of the Kanaal Art Foundation in Kortrijk, Belgium (1987–98).

De Zegher is the curator of widely acclaimed exhibitions, including America: Bride of the Sun. 500 Years of Latin America and the Low Countries (1992) at the Royal Museum of Fine Art, Antwerp and Inside the Visible. An Elliptical Traverse of Twentieth-Century Art in, of, and from the Feminine (1994–96) at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Whitechapel Gallery, London and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. She has curated several award-winning exhibitions including Eva Hesse Drawing (2006), which received the Association of Art Museum Curators (AAMC) Award for excellence and 3 x Abstraction: New Methods of Drawing by Hilma af Klint, Emma Kunz, and Agnes Martin (2005), which received the Best Show AICA (International Association of Art Critics) Award 2005. In 1997, de Zegher was the Belgian Commissioner to the XLVII Biennial of Venice.

Gerald McMaster is a curator and writer, and since 2005 has been the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. He was also a member of the curatorial team for this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto. At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, McMaster was the Director’s Special Assistant for Mall Exhibitions and Deputy Assistant Director for Cultural Resources from 2000–04. McMaster was also Curator, Canadian Museum of Civilization (1981–2000).

McMaster was the Canadian Commissioner to the XLVI Venice Biennale (1995) and has curated many renowned exhibitions, including In the Shadow of the Sun (1988), Indigena (1992), Edward Poitras XLVI Biennale di Venezia (1995) and Reservation X (1998). While with the Smithsonian he co-edited and co-curated First American Art: The Collection of Charles and Valerie Diker (2004), edited and curated New Tribe: New York (2005–06) and co-curated Remix: Multiple Modernities in a Post-Indian World (2007).

Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, Chairman, says: ‘De Zegher and McMaster will break ground for the Biennale of Sydney by being the first Joint Artistic Directors in our history. The Board has been inspired by their curatorial concept which, we believe, will also create a new direction for the exhibition. We welcome the distinguished duo to Sydney and to the challenge of the next Biennale, after having recently achieved record visitation (517,000) in 2010.’

Catherine de Zegher says: ‘With large shifts happening on a global scale, from West to East and North to South, I think Sydney and its Biennale are best positioned to epitomise the transition of divisive modernist structures and systems into the fluent dynamics of a 21st-century thinking that is connective and interdependent, and to showcase an art that shapes and corresponds to these recent processes of changing awareness. As Australia is on the verge of taking a central stage in outlining a new worldview for the future, I am extremely happy and honoured to be collaborating in Sydney with artists from here and around the globe!’

Gerald McMaster says: ‘I’ve been coming to Australia for several years and each time it’s a different experience. A short while ago I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit artists and curators in virtually every Australian city, from which I gleaned Australia’s zeitgeist – it’s a macrocosm of history, spirit and a willingness to reach out to the world. I also saw many similarities with my own country of birth – Canada. But it was the chance, given by the Biennale to Catherine and me, to work with artists from around the world and across Australia that finally attracted me, for which I am eternally grateful.’

The 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations and Carriageworks will present the Australian premieres of En Atendant and Cesena, two exciting performances by choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s dance ensemble Rosas.

En Atendant takes a new step in the exploration of combined music and dance, drawing inspiration from ars subtilior. This complex and intellectual form of polyphonic music developed out of the ruins of the plague in the fourteenth century, a time when the pillars of mediaeval society were fragmenting. De Keersmaeker explores questions of our mortality and physicality, that are now becoming ever more crucial, taking us to a place where twilight merges almost imperceptibly into night.

Cesena heralds the start to a new day and is choreographed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in collaboration with musical director Björn Schmelzer and his ensemble graindelavoix. This new production might be called the counterpart to Rosas’ En Atendant. Performers share the stage, exploring the limits of their ability – where dancers sing and singers dance in dialogue with the scores of the ars subtilior. Rosas has collaborated with Ann Veronica Janssens for the set design, creating a sculpture of passing time, reflecting the constant transformation of what is around us but only becomes visible in the course of time.

The third work to be presented at Carriageworks as part of the 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations is a major installation from respected Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens. Janssens creates ‘propositions’ or ‘interventions’ in her installations that are based on the relation of time and space.

Through the use of light, artificial fog, projections and sound, Janssens’ work touches on experiencing the ungraspable. Her immersive environments and urban interventions invite viewers to cross the threshold into a new sensory space – on the border of dizziness and dazzlement. Janssens’ work will be presented at Carriageworks from 27 June until 16 September 2012. En Atendant will be presented on 11 and 12 September and Cesena will be presented on 14 and 15 September 2012.


Every two years, the Biennale of Sydney is presented free to the public over a twelve-week period.As Australia’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts event – with 517,421 visits in 2010 – the 18th Biennale of Sydney will celebrate the organisation’s 39th anniversary. The Biennale of Sydney is the third longest running biennale in the world after Venice and São Paulo, and was the first biennale to be established in the Asia Pacific region. Since its inception in 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has provided an international platform for innovative and challenging contemporary art, showcasing more than 1500 artists from 83 countries.

The 18th Biennale of Sydney will be presented from 27 June – 16 September 2012.

The Biennale of Sydney gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the many organisations and individuals that make the exhibition and its programs possible.

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18th Biennale of Sydney
Künstlerische Direktoren: Catherine de Zegher, Gerald McMaster

Künstler: Jorge Macchi, Subhankar Banerjee, Maria Laet, Judy Watson, Yuken Teruya, Binh Danh, Dorothy Napangardi, Nipan Oranniwesna, Yun-Fei Ji, Sudsiri Pui-Ock, Jin Shi, Gao Rong, Hassan Sharif, Bouchra Khalili, Jananne Al-Ani, Sarah Vanagt / Katrien Vermeire, Juan Manuel Echavarria, Farideh Lashai, Postcommodity , John Wolseley, Alexis Destoop, Guido van der Werve, Phil Hastings, Alan Michelson, Pinaree Sanpitak, Alwar Balasubramaniam, Yoshihiro Suda, Khaled Sabsabi, David Aspden, Mit Jai Inn, Lee Mingwei, Gabriella Mangano / Silvana Mangano, Makinti Napanangka, Zoe Keramea, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu, Nicholas Hlobo, El Anatsui, Arin Rungjang, Judith Wright, Yeesookyung / Park Young-Sook, Phaptawan Suwannakudt, Liang Quan, Kamin Lertchaiprasert, Tim Johnson, Liu Zhuoquan, Alick Tipoti, Gade , Shuvinai Ashoona / John Noestheden, Honoré d´O, Jonathan Pylypchuk, Daan Roosegaarde, Fujiko Nakaya, Ann Veronica Janssens, Reinier Rietveld / Craigie Horsfield, Peter Robinson, Cal Lane, Jess MacNeil, Cristina Iglesias, Philip Beesley, Ed Pien / Tanya Tagaq, Monika Grzymala / Euraba Artists and Papermakers , Adam Cvijanovic, Sachiko Abe, Maria Fernanda Cardoso / Ross Rudesch Harley, Eva Kotatkova, Jonathan Jones, Robin Rhode, Susan Hefuna, Bahar Behbahani / Almagul Menlibayeva, Nina Canell / Robin Watkins, Tiffany Singh, Imran Qureshi, Iris Häussler, Alec Finlay, Mark Licari, Ria Verhaeghe, Khadija Baker, Latifa Echakhch, Nadia Myre, Everlyn Nicodemus, Ewa Partum, Ricardo Lanzarini, Li Hongbo, Erin Manning, Carlos Garaicoa, Sriwhana Spong, Lyndal Jones, Cecilia Vicuna, Jin Nü, Anne-Teresa de Keersmaeker, Junling Yang.