Curating Cities: Sydney - Copenhagen Exhibition Launch

(12.45pm, November 20 2011, Customs House)

Thank you, Rod Kirkman. Welcome, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the 200 nationalities who make up our city.

It's with great pleasure that I also acknowledge their Royal Highnesses, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; Her Excellency Sussane H. Shine, Ambassador of Denmark, and Tony Shine; the Danish Consul-General, Michael Hansen and Kristie Lindbjerg Hansen, and the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen.

This exhibition, and Tuesday's conference, mark the start of a five-year collaboration between the City of Sydney and the National Institute for Experimental Arts which has been funded by the Australian Research Council to look at the role of public art in promoting sustainability.

Through this partnership, the City has been able to host this Danish cultural delegation - all part of our quest to find ways of making Sydney a sustainable 21st century city.

It's not the first time, of course, that Sydney has looked to Denmark and Copenhagen for inspiring partnerships.

Just beyond this building, at Bennelong Point, is the internationally famous result of one of those partnerships, Joern Utzon's beautiful Sydney Opera House.

We have in the audience today other Danes who have left their mark on Sydney - Jeppe Andersen who has worked at Sydney University and with Frasers Property on Broadway and our wonderful "Danish icebreaker", Jan Gehl, who has worked with the City on our streets and public spaces.
In return, of course, we have given Denmark your Crown Princess - and the opportunity to collaborate on issues which matter to all of us - including the issues of climate change.

The pervasive nature of climate change is reflected in the roll-call of names featured in this exhibition. Artists not just from Denmark but from the United States and Australia as well as the United Kingdom have been stirred to action.

They show the power of the human imagination to literally transform the way we build our cities, how we occupy and move around them.

In turn cities, where over half the world's people now live, can themselves become transformers, finding new and more sustainable ways for people to live and work.

Cities can lead the way, and through global dialogue and collaboration, we can expand the circle of knowledge and expertise.

The five projects featured as part of this Curating Cities exhibition look at the basic issues of sustainability - how we might reduce our carbon footprint, rethink our consumption levels and re-imagine how we produce our food.

Curating, as the exhibition catalogue notes, means literally to "care for". It is a reminder that our job, as civic leaders, is to guide our cities to a sustainable future, and that our citizens can help build that sustainable future by the way they live today.

I hope it inspires many Sydneysiders to work towards that future, and I thank the curators - Jill Bennett, Margaret Farmer, Felicity Fenner and Rachael Kiang for their work.