José Roca named as artistic director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney

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Colombian curator José Roca has been named artistic director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, taking place in 2022.

Roca, who is currently artistic director of the not-for-profit contemporary art space FLORA ars+natura in Bogotá, plans to bring his interest in the relationship between art and nature to the Biennale.

His curatorial concept will have a strong and timely focus on sustainability and collaboration.

“In this particular day and time – in the wake of a planetary halt that forced us all to give a hard look at our real needs and priorities – we need to be conscious of the impact of our decisions and actions on the social, political and natural environment,” says the curator. “We should realise that the task of artists and cultural producers lies not only in raising awareness of these pressing issues, but in acting accordingly and consequently.”

He further spoke of finding more sustainable ways to undertake exhibitions, and to work more collaboratively with local audiences. Like the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, curated by artist Brook Andrew, Roca will be using the platform to “reflect the issues and concerns of the complex times we are living.”

Roca was chosen after a wide international search and brings a wealth of knowledge and connections.

“I am thrilled to be working with José Roca – a highly experienced, connected and professional international curator,” says Barbara Moore, CEO Biennale of Sydney. “Recent world events have highlighted that there is no such thing as business as usual. The Biennale was born to be agile, and present the best international contemporary art that speaks to the most pressing challenges of our time, for audiences around the world to enjoy.”

Roca previously held a curatorial position at the Tate in London, and for a decade managed a highly esteemed arts program at the Museo del Banco de la República (MAMU) in Bogotá. In addition, Roca has also curated major biennales and triennials in Brazil, Puerto Rico, and Philadelphia, and served on the awards jury for the 52nd Venice Biennial in 2007.

The artistic director will be supported by a core team of curators including: Paschal Daantos Berry, head of learning and participation, Art Gallery of New South Wales; Anna Davis, curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Hannah Donnelly, producer, First Nations Programs, Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.); and Talia Linz, curator, Artspace.

The 23rd Biennale of Sydney will take place from 12 March – 13 June 2022. 

Tiarney Miekus