A Guide To The 24th Biennale of Sydney

Image Source: Mr. Cuddles Under the Eave by Trevor Yeung

The magic of Biennale comes to Sydney over the next few months, entertaining, inspiring and surprising audiences as it offers a free-spirited and wide-ranging journey through art, history, culture and innovation. The 24th Biennale of Sydney kicks off on March 9 and continues until June 10. Held every two years in art galleries and public spaces across Sydney, it is Australia’s biggest contemporary art event.  

Since Sydney’s first Biennale in 1973, it has always been an event that transcends boundaries and ignites conversations. This year’s theme, Ten Thousand Suns, considers a multiplicity of worlds during a period of crisis and climate emergency, while embracing a hopeful outlook. 

The program includes art exhibitions, workshops, performances and talks, and for the first time ever, an eclectic music program. Featuring around 88 artists and collectives from 47 countries, it represents a huge diversity of communities and artistic styles. Around 14 are First Nations artists. 

More than an event, Biennale is an extraordinary experience that promises to redefine how art and culture are perceived. Featuring some of the most remarkable works from around the globe, it is recognised worldwide for presenting innovative, thought-provoking art. It is the largest exhibition of its kind in Australia and the third oldest Biennale in the world after Venice and São Paulo. 

This year’s Biennale of Sydney will have a stunning backdrop at White Bay Power Station. It will be the first event since the Heritage-listed power station reopened after extensive works to repurpose it as an arts, cultural and community hub. A 16-week program of installations, events, food vendors and bars will take over the space both day and night.  

Other locations include the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, the newly revamped Artspace in Woolloomooloo, UNSW Galleries in Paddington, and for the first time, the stunning Chau Chak Wing Museum. 

As always, most of the exhibitions are free, although there are a handful of ticketed events you’ll need to book for, such as the opening night concert, Lights On, held on an outdoor stage at White Bay, headlined by Belgian international dance-pop sensations Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul. There’ll also be an indoor dancefloor using El Gran Mono, a traditional Colombian picó sound system.  

Artists featured will include the VNS Matrix collective, who spearheaded the cyberfeminist movement in the 1990s; queer First Nations artist Dylan Mooney; Maru Yacco, from the Japanese LGBTQIA+ community, known for her brightly coloured artworks informed by Japanese popular and sub-culture; and Melbourne-based, Afghanistan-born artist Elyas Alavi who explores the history of Australia’s Afghan cameleers.  

Indigenous contemporary artist Tracey Moffat and Sydney performance artist Tommy Misa are among the line-up, and there’ll be a posthumous presentation of nine paintings by Chinese-American painter Martin Wong, known for his work documenting New York in the 1980s before he died from AIDS-related illness in 1999. 

Throughout Biennale, there’ll be daily free art tours, student workshops, family days curated by disability arts organisations, and regular Wednesday evening contemporary music nights. The full list of artists can be found at www.biennaleofsydney.art 

A by Adina Sydney is a proud sponsor of the event and a great base to stay while you head to the various Biennale locations. The luxe apartment hotel has a rooftop bar, Dean & Nancy on 22, with breathtaking 360-degree views of the Sydney skyline. Enjoy sundowners here as you ponder some of the works you’ve seen. 

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