Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Biennale of Sydney 1998 - 2008

One of the exhibitions that heralded the call to action for the CoUNTesses @blogspot.com in 2008 was the 16th Sydney Biennale, 'Revolutions: Forms that Turn' curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. The Biennale's website (BOS2008.com - no ".au"? It must be international) website describes the curatorial concept of the exhibition;

Billed this year as a celebration of the defiant spirit, the exhibition will bring together some of the most revolutionary artists the world has ever known alongside the shining stars of today.

The theme of the 16th Biennale, Revolutions – Forms That Turn, suggests the impulse to revolt, a desire for change, and seeing the world differently.

This was only the third Sydney Biennale out of sixteen to be curated by a woman (previously Isabel Carlos in 2004 and Lynne Cooke in 1996). CoUNTess was of the assumption that given this history, and with a woman curator at the helm again, the "revolutionary" theme and the idea of "seeing the world differently" there would be a healthy contingent of women artists in the show. Not so. This "revolution" was spinning off its axis as far as gender representation is concerned, with the lowest percentage of woman artists of the Biennale's previous ten years.

Biennale of Sydney 1998 - 2008

For women artists, the sun looks to be setting on a long night. A dark age shall we say, as the vast majority of the "shining stars" lighting our way from "the most revolutionary artists the world has ever known" are men. With a gender split of 74% men and 26% women it is no wonder so many of the reviews and publicity surrounding the Sydney Biennale also predominantly focused on the work of men.

(NB: the prior Sydney Biennales are currently being researched, and we will continue this thread as soon as the full numbers come in)


Anonymous said...

horay for charles mereweather his biennale was more inclusive on so many levels not just gender

Anonymous said...

Only 26%?? this is like a landslide, incredible. it shows how little regard these publically funded institutions like the sydney biennale can be bothered to even notice such unequal representation for women artists the lowest percentage for 10 years. i wonder how the 2008 show will compare to the full list?

because it is art we are expected to engage with it on a spiritual level and ignore the glaringly obvious fact that there are so few women artists and just be okay about that

it is a staggering step backward for women artists in general if nothing is said if this is just accepted as normal

n.paradoxa have info on a similar study done on the 2001 venice biennale


Anonymous said...

I would be interested to know CoUNTess what your view of a balanced gender representation would be... Would a 50/50 male/female, representation eradicate existing discrimination? Or do you see representation ideally being more along the lines of actual participation, say reflecting the fact that practicing artists seem to be about 20 perecent male to 80 percent female?

Anonymous said...

craftsMANship 0 (0%)

male subcultures 1 (20%)

slow motion video 1 (20%)

being bigger and better and i am the biggest 1 (20%)

documentation 1 (20%)

the catalogue 1 (20%)

the price

is great you feel a need to attack individuals like this. can you please explain more, what male sub cultures?
or are you just trying to start a war ?

Anonymous said...

annoymous war monger
I have no idea how you construed this blog as an attack on individuals or perhaps you?

paranoia perhaps?

if womens art is characterised as being female centric you know central core imagery and all of that - is it that giant a leap to state that most male art is about male imagery and issues.

I think this is just calling it for what it is art by men about men

I take offense that male art is seen as universal

Anonymous said...

When I went to the Biennale I actually did not take notice of whether or no the artists were male or female. I was too busy looking at and taking in the art.