Writer Anthony Byrt has contributed an interesting critical overview of the current Sydney Biennale to the Artforum website. Clearly a difficult exhibition to tackle in a short piece, particularly given the debates around its problematic financial support that created tensions in the lead-up (and aftermath) of the opening. As Byrt incisively notes:
"The letter and the boycott, heartfelt though they were, placed a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” cloud over everyone involved. Several artists who’d decided to stay in the show spoke off-the-record of the immense pressure they’d been placed under to withdraw. The standoff also inadvertently oversimplified a remarkably complex issue that all of us in the art world have to take a position on: not the detention centers, which are a horrific response to a humanitarian problem, but global art money’s relative cleanliness. Then there is the fact that a huge amount of arts funding in Australia, including for the biennial, comes from the Australia Council, which in turn is funded by the Australian government—the same one implementing the detention-center policy. The dispute may also have a nasty tail for the future of the biennial. In early March, one government minister, speaking on national radio, labeled the protest an act of “vicious ingratitude,” while the Federal Arts Minister called for a change in the Australia Council’s mandate, which would see recipients of funding penalized for turning down corporate sponsorship on “unreasonable” grounds."