The Seditious Mr Zoates

Detail of "Garibaldi's" by Toby Zoates – an artwork promoting a late 1970s Cabaret Conspiracy event at Garibaldi's cafe, Kings Cross. Image: Toby Zoates/supplied.

John Moyle profiles inner Sydney artist Toby Zoates and the upcoming SEDITION 2020 Festival.

Art shows may look different under Covid-19 rules but that doesn’t mean that they have a diminished impact or reflect their time any less.

In its sophomore year, the SEDITION art festival is about to take art out of the galleries and place it in fifteen pop-up shop windows around Sydney, including at World Square, Macleay Street in Potts Point and Taylor Square.

Running from October 14 to November 15, SEDITION 2020 will contain prominent themes in the public discourse including Black Lives Matter, sexism, anti-science movements, Australia vs China and toxicity in Australian culture.

Featured artists include Brook Andrews; 2020 Australia Council Visual Arts Award winner, Fiona Lowry; Anne Zahalka; Jenny Watson; Julie Rrap and Blak Douglas.

A press release said that “a core mission of SEDITION 2020 is to take art out of the galleries and back to the streets where it will stimulate debate in the community”.

One artist who featured in SEDITION last year is Toby Zoates, who this year will preempt the main show with a sidebar event called SEDITION Satellite.

Running from October 9 to 31, the show is being held in Pass~Port, the ultra-hip Oxford Square skater emporium that also features Zoates’ work on skateboards and t-shirts.

Reflecting many of the values of the main event, Zoates describes his 2020 Pass~Port show The Politics of Survival as communicating the vision of a queer cyberpunk outsider who has opposed defiance disorder since childhood.

For the past 40 years, Zoates has used the inner city areas of Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills as the backdrop to powerful political statements executed in his individual style.

Pass~Port director Trent Evans said the show would be compliant of Covid-19 rules (as such, there will be no official opening) and people can drop into the gallery space during normal store times.

This year’s SEDITION will also feature a table reading and a panel discussion on life in the time of Covid, made up of artists, scientists and activists from the Eternity Theatre, from 5-6pm on 29 October.

The discussion will be streamed on the SEDITION 2020 website.

Toby Zoates’ The Politics of Survival will run at Pass~Port Store & Gallery, 16 Oxford Square, Darlinghurst from October 9 to 31.

More information on the SEDITION 2020 artists’ trail TBA.

The SEDITION 2020 website is located at

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