Ai Weiwei Leads First Artist Lineup for the Biennale of Sydney 2018

The controversial Chinese artist is one of 21 artists announced for the biannual citywide exhibition today.

As far as blockbuster citywide exhibitions go in Australia, there's none quite as ambitious as the Biennale of Sydney. Celebrating its 21st edition with brand new artistic director Mami Kataoka (chief curator of Tokyo's Mori Art Museum), the Biennale is bringing out the big guns next year. With controversial Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei at the top, the lineup for the 2018 Biennale has dropped.

Running from Friday, March 16 until Monday, June 11, the Biennale will see around 70 artists exhibiting around Sydney over 12 weeks — with 21 announced in the first release today. Weiwei will make his triumphant return to Australia following his wildly successful Melbourne double-bill exhibition with Andy Warhol last year. If you remember, he had quite the public falling-out with Lego so expect anything and everything from his Biennale involvement. Weiwei joins the likes of French multimedia artist Laurent Grasso, sculptural artist Haegue Yang, Australian contemporary artist Brook Andrew and Finnish video artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila, among significantly impressive others.

While the Biennale's exhibition title won't be announced until July, artistic director Kataoka says this year they've done away with a specific theme or concept. Instead, they're focusing on perspectives from a broad range of artists from around the world. "Next year's Biennale will explore multiple viewpoints in search of a state of equilibrium," she said. "Rather than focusing on a specific concept or theme, the exhibition will suggest multi-layered perspectives of the world and its histories simultaneously."

Kataoka says the Biennale experience will be "a journey; a walk through microcosms of the world today based on the stratum of history, human knowledge, emotions, desires and beliefs". A little vague, but we're still psyched.


Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Ai Weiwei
Brook Andrew
Oliver Beer
Anya Gallaccio
Laurent Grasso
N.S. Harsha
Mit Jai Inn
Kate Newby
Noguchi Rika
Nguyen Trinh Thi
Ciara Phillips
Koji Ryui
Yasmin Smith
George Tjungurrayi
Nicole Wong
Wong Hoy Cheong
Yukinori Yanagi
Haegue Yang
Jun Yang

The 21st Biennale of Sydney will run from Friday March 16, until Monday June 11, 2018. We'll keep you posted on the whole artist lineup and exhibition program.

Images: Ai Weiwei and Mit Jai Inn.

Published on April 06, 2017 by Imogen Baker

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