PRINT September 1998

World Report

the Biennale of Sydney

In mounting the eleventh BIENNALE OF SYDNEY, subtitled “Every Day,” curator Jonathan Watkins will take advantage of the city’s harbor views, installing the exhibition at several waterfront locales, ranging from the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales to a handful of derelict warehouses reclaimed for the occasion.

Watkins, who was born in the UK and educated in Australia, was formerly curator at London’s Serpentine Gallery. For the Sydney show, he has selected about one hundred artists from around the world—mostly emerging or regionally known figures (with the exception of Beat Streuli, Carl Andre, On Kawara, and Olafur Eliasson)—around a thesis about contemporary art’s involvement with the everyday.

In recent years, the Biennale of Sydney has alternately played it safe, presenting surveys of fashionable art stars, or offered troubling forecasts focusing on young contemporary work. This year’s version, which opens September 18, seems like a mishmash of the two. Given the thematic focus and global inclusiveness, Watkins’ Biennale will, in all probability, reflect the social disintegration evident in urban centers around the world, and reveal how simple gestures so important to younger artists today are direct responses to this urban anomie.

Charles Green