Kate Mills, Chairman of the Biennale of Sydney, said: “The artist is at the centre of our work at the Biennale of Sydney. We are therefore delighted to announce the appointment of one of Australia’s most distinguished artists, Brook Andrew, as Artistic Director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. He has consistently modelled national and global collaboration and the sharing of knowledge in both his artistic and exhibition-making practice.”
Mills noted that “the Biennale of Sydney offers an exciting geographical perspective for debate, controversy and cutting-edge discussions. As we collectively face an increasingly complex future, we are proud to celebrate the substantive, transformative creative practice of Brook Andrew as he imagines alternative visions for the future.”
Brook Andrew described his appointment as an honour. “As Artistic Director, I am interested in shining a light on the active, stable and rich pre-existing collaborations and connectivity of Indigenous and Edge cultures. I aim to work together with artists, collectives and communities, from Australia and around the globe, to reconfigure the world as we see it and reveal rich local and global rhizomes and unique individual cultural expressions in one place.”
The rich, research-based practice and interventions of Brook Andrew have been presented in exhibitions at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Musée d'ethnographie de Genève, Geneva; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. In 2012, he curated the highly regarded exhibition, TABOO, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and his distinguished 25-year career was recently recognised with a large-scale, immersive exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Brook Andrew is presently concluding an ambitious, three-year-long Australian Research Council grant, Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial. This project responds to calls for a national memorial to Aboriginal loss during the Frontier Wars, a series of conflicts between Indigenous Australians and European settlers from 1788 to the 1930s.
Jo-Anne Birnie-Danzker, Director and CEO, Biennale of Sydney, noted that Brook Andrew was selected for the role of Artistic Director by a search committee which included among its members Dr Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Research Curator at Tate Research Centre: Asia, London; Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director, M+, West Kowloon, Hong Kong; and Aaron Seeto, Director MACAN Museum, Jakarta. The Biennale of Sydney also consulted closely with Exhibition Partners Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, Carriageworks and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
Birnie-Danzker commented that “the Biennale of Sydney plays an indispensable role in Australia’s engagement with the world, and a meaningful role in the life of the nation. In 2018, it attracted visitation of more than 850,000, the highest level in the Biennale’s 45-year history. Brook Andrew’s commitment to alternative narratives and new understandings of historical legacies will further strengthen the Biennale’s commitment to the rich, diverse communities it serves, nationally and globally.”
An artist of the Wiradjuri Nation with Celtic ancestry, Brook Andrew has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1996, examining dominant narratives, specifically those relating to colonialism, placing Australia at the centre of a global inquisition. His creative practice harnesses alternate narratives to assemble new understandings of historical legacies and offers new ways of inheriting and being in the world today.
In 2014, he worked closely with the collections of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Museo de América and Museo Nacional de Antropología in Madrid for the exhibition Really Useful Knowledge curated by WHW at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. His immersive installation titled A Solid Memory of the Forgotten Plains of our Trash and Obsessionsreflected on Spanish, British and Australian history and colonialism.
In 2017, Brook Andrew was the recipient of the prestigious Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (SARF) focusing on the Frontier Wars of the United States of America and Australia and was appointed Photography Residencies Laureate at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris. He recently completed a year-long Australia Council International Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlinwhere he reflected on the complexity of memory sites in Germany.
Since its inception in 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has provided a global platform for art and ideas and is recognised for commissioning and presenting innovative, thought-provoking art from Australia and around the world. The 21st Biennale of Sydney attracted visitation of more than 850,000 in 2018, the highest level in its 45-year history, reaffirming its position as the pre-eminent and longest-running biennial in the Asia Pacific region.
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