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Mami Kataoka Named Artistic Director of 21st Sydney Biennale

The Sydney Biennale has announced that Mami Kataoka, chief curator at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, was appointed artistic director of the twenty-first edition of the fair, which will be held in 2018. She is the first curator from Asia to serve in this role since the biennial’s inception in 1973.

Kate Mills, chair of the biennial, said, “As one of the region’s most accomplished curators, Mami will bring a truly fresh perspective and an Asian sensibility to the exhibition in 2018, enabling biennale artists and audiences to explore in greater depth our relationship with the Asia Pacific region and challenge conventional wisdoms.”

Kataoka, who is Japanese, is familiar with the Australian biennial—she previously served as one of the thirteen international advisors to the twentieth iteration of the fair, which drew more than 640,000 visitors. During her tenure at the Mori Art Museum, she has organized numerous exhibitions, including the group shows “Roppongi Crossing” (2004, 2013) and “Sensing Nature: Perception of Nature in Japan” (2010) and major retrospectives of prominent artists in Asia such as Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Ai Weiwei, Lee Bul, and Makoto Aida. She was coartistic director of “Roundtable: 9th Gwangju Biennale” (2012), guest curator of “Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past” (2012) at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, and curator of “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” (2012) at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC. From 2007 to 2009, Kataoka was the international curator at the Hayward Gallery in London, and from 1998 to 2002 she served as chief curator at Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery. Currently, she serves as a board member of CIMAM, a member of Guggenheim Museum Asia Art Council, and an advisory member for Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing.

“I am especially interested in the role that the biennale has played in bringing international contemporary art, artists and art curators to Australia for more than forty years,” Kataoka said. “I am thrilled to work together with great artists from Australia and around the world for the coming biennale to find ways to engage in depth with its history, diverse communities, and contexts.”