Colombian curator José Roca appointed as Artistic Director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney

BoS-José-Roca-photo-by-Alejandra-Quintero-SinisterraAfter an extensive international search, the Biennale of Sydney? has announced Colombian curator José Roca as the Artistic Director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, which will take place 12 March – 13 June 2022.

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of esteemed, internationally recognised curator, José Roca, as Artistic Director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney,” said Kate Mills, Chairman, Biennale of Sydney. “The appointment followed a rigorous international search undertaken by the Artistic Director Search Committee and a detailed, ruminative presentation to the Biennale Board.”

“His collaborative curatorial concept and the resulting disquisition on the natural and socio-political environments is timely and, we hope will be a catalyst not merely for an exchange of knowledge between national and global artists, philosophers, creatives, curators, institutions and organisations, but also a call to action,” said Ms Mills.

José Roca is the Artistic Director of the non-for-profit contemporary art space FLORA ars+natura in his home city of Bogotá. He was the Estrellita B. Brodsky Adjunct Curator of Latin American Art for the Tate, London (2012-2015) and for a decade managed the arts program at the Museo del Banco de la República (MAMU) in Bogotá, establishing it as one of the most respected institutions in Latin America.

He was the chief curator of the 8th Bienal do Mercosul (2011) in Porto Alegre, Brazil and co-curator of the I Poly/graphic Triennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico (2004), the 27th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (2006) and the Encuentro de Medellín MDE07 (2007). He was the Artistic Director of Philagrafika 2010, Philadelphia’s international Triennial celebrating print in contemporary art, and served on the awards jury for the 52nd Venice Biennial (2007).

“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,” said José Roca, Artistic Director, 23rd Biennale of Sydney. “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.”

“We must think of more sustainable ways to do exhibitions, work collaboratively with and for local audiences, and learn from the peoples that have lived in harmony with nature. I am honoured to be appointed Artistic Director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney and look forward to working with a team of experienced colleagues towards a project that will reflect the issues and concerns of the complex times we are living.”

Heavily influenced by the relationship between art and nature, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney will have a strong focus on sustainability and collaboration. Roca’s concept for the next edition will be developed and realised by a team of curators – the Curatorium – who represent the Biennale of Sydney’s core exhibition partners including:

  • José Roca, Artistic Director, 23rd Biennale of Sydney
  • Paschal Daantos Berry, Head of Learning and Participation, Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Anna Davis, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Hannah Donnelly, Producer, First Nations Programs, Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.)
  • Talia Linz, Curator, Artspace

In addition to the Curatorium of Australian curators, Roca will reduce the environmental impact of the Biennale limiting international travel during the research process by working with a worldwide network of colleagues, (re)producing works locally, and working inter-institutionally to optimise resources. Roca will move to Sydney as soon as travel restrictions permit and stay for the entire duration of the process.

“I am thrilled to be working with José Roca – a highly experienced, connected and professional international curator – as the Artistic Director of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022),” said Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney. Recent world events have highlighted that there is no such thing as business as usual.”

“The Biennale was born to be agile, and present the best international contemporary art that speaks to the most pressing challenges of our time, for audiences around the world to enjoy. The new way forward is all about collaboration. I look forward to seeing the Curatorium’s vision develop over the coming year and sharing that vision with our global community in March 2022,” said Ms Moore.

The 23rd Biennale of Sydney will take place 12 March – 13 June 2022. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: José Roca – photo by Alejandra Quintero Sinisterra