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Colombian curator José Roca in a denim shirt partially covered by a purple backdrop
Photograph: Alejandra Quintero Sinisterra

The Biennale of Sydney has announced its next artistic director

José Roca brings a wealth of internationally accrued experience from major arts venues and events

Written by
Stephen A Russell

2020's tenacious Biennale of Sydney is still in its final weeks, but attentions are already turning towards the major arts festival's next outing in two years' time. Brook Andrew, the Biennale’s first Indigenous artistic director, will pass the baton to Colombian curator extraordinaire José Roca. Currently the steward of art space FLORA ars+natura in his home city of Bogotá, he’ll be tasked with outlining the vision of the next Biennale, set to open on March 12 2022 (barring unforeseen curveballs like the one that saw this year pivot to digital, before returning to venues around Sydney).

Roca ran the arts program at the Museo del Banco de la República (MAMU) in Bogotá for a decade, during a period that firmly established it as one of the most respected institutions in Latin America. He also helped curate the Tate’s sizeable Latin American collection in London. He’s also overseen major arts festival not unlike the Biennale in scope in Porto Alegre and São Paulo in Brazil, San Juan in Puerto Rico, and Philadelphia in the US, as well as serving on the jury for the 52nd Venice Biennial.

He’s deeply interested in the overlap between art and nature, with a strong focus on sustainability, so expect those themes to be reflected when he announces his overarching vision for the 2022 Biennale. To anchor the festival to local as well as international ideas, Roca will be assisted by a super-team dubbed the Curatorium. This will include Hannah Donnelly, producer of First Nations programs at Information + Cultural Exchange, Paschal Daantos Berry from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Anna Davis from the MCA and Talia Linz from Artspace.

Roca says he’s honoured to step into the role and looks forward to working alongside the Curatorium.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. 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.”

There's still plenty happening at this year's Biennale. Check out our highlights guide here

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