20th Biennale of Sydney: The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed
If each era posits a different view of reality, the 20th Biennale of Sydney asks: what is ours?
Editor: 20th Biennale Artistic Director, Stephanie Rosenthal
The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed, the title of the 20th Biennale of Sydney exhibition and of the accompanying catalogue, is inspired by a comment by leading science-fiction author William Gibson, and also serves as a framework for this investigation. The first part of the title speaks to the fact that the exhibition is about the now; but more than that, it suggests that perhaps we have already surpassed our own ideas about the future. The second part reminds us that access to information, the internet and other more basic resources is by no means universal; many people are denied the opportunity to benefit from (or participate in) these new spaces where information can be exchanged. These conditions of uneven distribution are not inevitable, however; they are largely the result of historical and current geopolitics and economic power structures. One consequence of this uneven distribution is social upheaval on a scale unprecedented in recent world history; as we have seen with the influx of political refugees, not just into Australia, but internationally and notably in Europe.
The 20th Biennale is structured around several thematic clusters conceived of as “embassies of thought.” The catalogue explores the themes of each, structured into embassy sections with introductory prologues alongside a selection of excerpts and extracted texts. Together, the pages function like a reader, helping to peel back the exhibition’s conceptual layers. Texts represent some of the thinking that has informed this Biennale, but which also relate generally to Rosenthal’s curatorial practice more broadly, including writings by: Rosemary Arrojo, Alain Badiou, Stephanie Bailey, Walter Benjamin, Edouard Glissant, Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Rebecca Schneider, Hito Steyerl, Michael Taussig, Jenna Wortham and Slavoj Žižek. The catalogue additionally features new essays by André Lepecki, Franco Berardi, Marcus Steinweg, Hicham Khalidi, Aveek Sen and Markus Miessen. Falke Pisano’s visual interventions for the book draw information from the publication, mapping the interconnected relations in a playful, yet thoughtful way. A range of artists participating in the 20th Biennale have contributed new text and visual commissions, including: Richard Bell, Brown Council, Heman Chong, Cécile B Evans, Bo Christian Larsson, Adam Linder, Dane Mitchell, Dayanita Singh, Keg de Souza, and Ming Wong. The catalogue also includes a series of roundtable discussions with other artists participating in the exhibition.
The catalogue brings to life the thought constellations informing the 20th edition, while also functioning as an invitation to the reader to add their own dots in the imagined star field of themes presented in the 20th Biennale of Sydney.