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Ai Weiwei is presenting a major new artwork in Sydney

Written by
Dee Jefferson

The Biennale of Sydney has revealed the first 21 artists taking part in the 21st edition of the city-wide festival (taking place in 2018) – and the biggest news is that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be presenting a new work commissioned by the Biennale. 

It's not entirely unexpected (in fact we predicted it) given that artistic director Mami Kataoka curated the major survey Ai Weiwei: According to What? for Mori Art Museum in 2009, which subsequently toured North America.

This will be the second Biennale of Sydney for Weiwei, who presented the work 'World Map' in 2006. The artist was most recently in Australia for the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria's major exhibition Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei.

The 21st Biennale of Sydney's line-up, which is expected to swell to around 70 artists, will also feature major international names Laurent Grasso, Haegue Yang and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and Australian artists Brook Andrew, George Tjungurrayi, Yasmin Smith and Koji Ryui. (Scroll down for the full list of artists).

L-R: Brook Andrew, Yasmin Smith, Hoy Cheong Wong, Koji Ryui, Mami Kataoka, NS Harsha and Rika Noguchi
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The 2018 Biennale of Sydney will not focus on a single topic or theme, but take a more responsive approach to what artists are interested in, and (in Kataoka's words) "suggest multi-layered perspectives of the world and its histories simultaneously."

The 21 currently confirmed artists for the Biennale of Sydney are:

Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Born 1959 in Finland, lives and works in Helsinki)
Ai Weiwei (Born 1957 in China, lives and works in Beijing)
Brook Andrew (Born 1970 in Australia, lives and works in Melbourne)
Oliver Beer (Born 1985 in England, lives and works in Paris and London
Anya Gallaccio (Born 1963 in Scotland, lives and works in San Diego)
Laurent Grasso (Born 1972 in France, lives and works in Paris and New York)
N.S. Harsha (Born 1969 in India, lives and works in Mysore)
Mit Jai Inn (Born 1960 in Thailand, lives and works in Chiang Mai)
Kate Newby (Born 1979 in New Zealand, lives and works in Auckland and New York)
Noguchi Rika (Born 1971 in Japan, lives and works in Okinawa)
Nguyen Trinh Thi (Born 1973 in Vietnam, lives and works in Hanoi)
Ciara Phillips (Born 1976 in Canada, lives and works in Glasgow)
Koji Ryui (Born 1976 in Japan, lives and works in Sydney)
Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman, born 1973 in England, and Joe Gerhardt, born 1972 in England, live and work in Brighton)
Yasmin Smith (Born 1984 in Australia, lives and works in Sydney)
George Tjungurrayi (Born c. 1943 in Australia, lives and works in Kintore)
Nicole Wong (Born 1990 in Hong Kong, lives and works in Hong Kong)
Wong Hoy Cheong (Born 1960 in Malaysia, lives and works in Kuala Lumpur)
Yukinori Yanagi (Born 1959 in Japan, lives and works in Hiroshima)
Haegue Yang (Born 1971 in South Korea, lives and works in Berlin and Seoul)
Jun Yang (Born 1975 in China, lives and works in Vienna, Taipei and Yokohama)

If you're interested in the Biennale, you should definitely check out the inaugural edition of The National Biennial of New Australian Art, currently taking place across three major Sydney institutions. 

Image of Ai Weiwei (top) used under Creative Commons license 2.0. The original photograph, supplied by Alfred Weidinger, has been cropped here.

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