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Mami Kataoka - Biennale of Sydney
Photograph: Daniel Boud

The Biennale of Sydney just got its first ever artistic director from Asia

Written by
Dee Jefferson

Seems crazy, but: the region's oldest Biennale of contemporary art hasn't hired from Asia in its 43 years, despite the obvious proximity and influx of immigration from the region – and the popularity of QAGOMA's Asia Pacific Triennial. 

But for its 21st edition (slated for March 2018), the Biennale of Sydney will be curated by Mami Kataoka, chief curator at the Mori Art Museum (MAM) in Tokyo. Kataoka was one of 13 curatorial advisers to Stephanie Rosenthal for the 2016 Biennale of Sydney, and if we had to guess we'd say she might have had a hand in the works by Charwei Tsai, Lee Mingwei and Lee Bul, whose works she has historically been a fan of as a curator.

Given her history at Mori Art Museum and beyond (including posts as curator of international art for London's Hayward Gallery, and co-curator for the 2012 Gwangju Biennale) we're making the following predictions:

– A new work by Ai Weiwei – given that she curated the major survey Ai Weiwei: According to What? for MAM in 2009, which subsequently toured North America;

– A focus on artists from south-east Asia, including those featured in her upcoming survey of contemporary south-east Asian art at MAM (slated for 2017);

– Obviously we'd be expecting Japan to be well represented, but it's worth noting that her previous survey exhibitions at MAM have included Tsuyoshi Ozawa and Makoto Aida.

Stay tuned. And if you can't wait until 2018, check out the best art in Sydney in July.

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