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International Shorts

the Biennale of Sydney

Descartes was wrong: The mind/body split is bogus. With this as her hook for the 14th Biennale of Sydney, the director, Portuguese independent curator Isabel Carlos, won’t get much argument there. Titling her show “On Reason and Emotion,” Carlos has conscripted neurologist and compatriot António Damásio, author of such titles as Descartes’ Error and The Feeling of What Happens, to provide the theoretical ballast for floating the interdependence of thought and feeling in contemporary art. Looking to settle the score with “northern” (read: New York) intellectualism, her biennale gets behind the feisty “southerner” by favoring artists from South America and warmer European countries, along with a sizable contingent from Australia and New Zealand.

As she acknowledges in her concept statement, Carlos has built her theme on a foundation of national stereotypes and behavioral clichés, most of

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