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14th Biennale of Sydney: On Reason and Emotion

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


04 Jun 2004 to 15 Aug 2004


Joan Grounds & Sherre DeLys, Jens Haaning, Derek Kreckler, Jari Silomaki, Jimmie Durham, Mario Rizzi, Annetta Kapon, AES + F, Catherine Richards, Fernando Alvim, Gordon Hookey, Monica Nador, Susan Norrie, Minerva Cuervas, Mari Sunna, Elizabeth Nyumi, Mélik Ohanian, Javier Téllez, Asta Gröting, Diti Almog, Michael Raedecker, Francis Alÿs, De Rijke/De Rooij, James Coleman, Pravdoliub Ivanov, Pat Brassington, Michael Harrison, Bruce Nauman, Cecilia Costa, Michael Sailstorfer, Xing Danwen, Amilcar Packer, Luisa Cunha, Rubens Mano


Isabel Carlos

about the exhibition

The Museum of Contemporary Art dedicated all four gallery floors as well as the lawn in front of the MCA to display artwork by 34 of the 51 participating artists selected by curator Isabel Carlos for the 14th Biennale of Sydney: On Reason and Emotion.

Since the 17th century, when French philosopher René Descartes stated “Cogito ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am), the idea of a split between mind and body has been a foundation of modern society and thinking. Works by 51 artists from 30 countries were brought together for the Biennale of Sydney in 2004 to encourage audiences to explore and question this core belief. The art in On Reason and Emotion suggested that feeling and thinking are much more connected than generally thought.

Another thread throughout the exhibition was a consideration of Western perceptions and stereotypes which have historically equated the South with emotion and the North with reason. These stereotypes again paralleled the supposed mind/body split.

The exhibition took place across the City of Sydney, creating a walking tour between the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Sydney, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Artspace. Important to the experience of On Reason and Emotion was the journey through different spaces, and how this focused a relationship to, and understanding of, architecture and the natural environment.

More than half of the Biennale was made up of new works created specifically for the exhibition. These included work for outdoor sites such as the front lawn of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the MCA Café, the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

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