At Large /SHARE
The Future Is Here
Cécile B. Evans, Preamble to a Prequel (of sorts).
The future is here – it’s just not evenly distributed. The title of the 20th Biennale of Sydney – inspired by science-fiction author William Gibson – is unnervingly on point. In a statement made by Artistic Director Stephanie Rosenthal, she says: “Each era posits a different view of reality, and the 20th Biennale of Sydney asks: what is ours?”
As the latter part of the title would suggest, ‘reality’ in terms of technology, access to information and participation in scientific advancements, is vastly and increasingly disparate around the world, depending largely on your geographical location and socio-economic circumstance. The Biennale aims to create free spaces, or Embassies of Thought, where ideas may be accessed irrespective of race or cultural background – physical locations that provide “safe spaces for thinking”, where concepts and perceptions can be fostered and explored outside of existing power structures.
The Embassies of Thought will feature 83 artists from 35 countries across various venues around Sydney – each with their own themed ‘constellation of thought’. Cockatoo Island, for example, plays host to the Embassy of the Real, which implores artists to comment on the nature of reality in an increasingly digitised era. While Carriageworks, or the Embassy of Disappearance, ponders all that vanishes – histories, landscapes, languages – and how memory shapes and influences what we can no longer see.
The 20th Biennale certainly explores some of the more sobering themes we face as a society today, but it also, and ultimately, offers opportunities for a new and hopeful worldview. “As the works illustrate”, said Rosenthal, “art can reflect reality – the current state of the world – but it can also propose alternatives to it.”