Sydney Biennale

Sydney Biennale 2018 Part 2

March 30, 2018

Is it only me, or is there something intrinsically boring about art projects that involve community participation? I know there is a strand of thought in contemporary art that loathes the very idea of the master artist or the individual genius, believing every human being should be encouraged to harness his or her innate creativity. … More


Sydney Biennale 2018 Part 1

March 23, 2018

Few artists have dominated a Sydney Biennale as comprehensively as Ai Weiwei with his contributions to this year’s show. It’s partly because hardly any of the 70 chosen artists, or groups of artists, have a public profile in Australia, while Ai is an international art celebrity and media magnet. Two years ago the National Gallery … More


Biennale of Sydney 2016

March 23, 2016

There’s a lot to like about the 20th Biennale of Sydney, but it isn’t necessarily the art. Curator Stephanie Rosenthal, born in Germany but employed by the Hayward Gallery in London, has proven herself to be one of the most committed of all Biennale directors. Previous incumbents have tended to fly into Australia for quick … More


2014: The Year in Art

January 10, 2015

2014 has brought mixed fortunes for Sydney’s art institutions. The Art Gallery of NSW began with a weak show of American art, and ended with the long-awaited Pop to Popism (until 1 March) – a distinct improvement, but possibly not the hit the Gallery so badly needs. In the meantime there has been a dearth … More


19th Biennale of Sydney

March 29, 2014

Biennales thrive on controversy but there is a feeling of unease about this year’s headlines. No-one envisaged artists boycotting the Biennale because the founding sponsor has government contracts to manage detention centres. It was no cause for celebration when Transfield’s Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, one the few dedicated patrons of the arts in corporate Australia, felt obliged … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 14, 2012

One of the most striking images in the 18th Biennale of Sydney is that of Japanese artist Sachiko Abe, dressed in bridal white, sitting in a small brick building in Cockatoo Island, cutting paper. Visitors are asked to remain silent, so the only sound is the noise made by Abe’s scissors as she trims sheets … More


18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


17th Biennale of Sydney

May 29, 2010

But that joke isn’t funny any more, It’s too close to home And it’s too near the bone. (The Smiths) “When he makes a joke,” said Sigmund Freud, “a problem lies concealed.” He was quoting Goethe, who was referring to the aphorist, Lichtenberg, but the sentence has universal relevance. Laughter is a release from tension, … More


17th Biennale of Sydney

May 22, 2010

  We are the Folk Song Army, Every one of us cares. We all hate poverty, war, and injustice, Unlike the rest of you squares. (Tom Lehrer)   This may or may not be Sydney’s biggest ever Biennale, but it breaks all records for the length of the title. The Beauty of Distance: Songs of … More


Ken Unsworth & Paul Selwood

July 11, 2009

As a by-product of last year’s flawed Biennale, Sydney was introduced to an extraordinary new venue. Cockatoo Island is an old naval shipyard, an industrial fantasia, only fifteen minutes by ferry from Circular Quay. Over the past six months the island has been used as concert venue and as a drawing camp for students from … More