To mark the opening of the Biennale, Ai Weiwei appears in conversation with Artistic Director Mami Kataoka in a personal and political discussion that charts changes in the artist’s work since he left China, and his current engagement with the issue of global forced migration through his artworks and films. Presented in partnership with Sydney Opera House.
The Biennale of Sydney and Roadshow present the Sydney premiere of Ai Weiwei’s new film Human Flow, a powerful feature documentary that attempts to communicate the scale and human impact of mass displacement, filmed over the course of a year in 23 countries. Presented in partnership with Sydney Opera House.
2018 marks the 45th anniversary
of the Biennale of Sydney and its
The Biennale provides a platform for art and ideas and is recognised for commissioning and presenting innovative, thought-provoking art from Australia and around the globe. A leading international art event, The Biennale of Sydney has showcased the work of nearly 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries. It has attracted over 4 million visitors since its inception in 1973 and holds an important place on both the national and international stage.
The Biennale of Sydney is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Land and pay respect to Elders, both past and present.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Established in 1871, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is the leading museum of art in New South Wales and one of Australia’s foremost cultural institutions. It presents nearly 40 exhibitions annually, drawing on significant collections of Australian, European and Asian art. The Art Gallery of NSW has been a traditional and primary venue partner of the Biennale of Sydney since 1976.
Artspace is the leading interdisciplinary space for the production and presentation of contemporary art in Australia. Committed to experimentation, collaboration and advocacy, Artspace’s mission is to enhance culture through a deeper engagement with contemporary art. Housed in the historic Gunnery building in Woolloomooloo and incorporating presentation spaces along with artist studios, Artspace has been a Biennale venue partner since 1992.
Carriageworks, located at Sydney’s historic Eveleigh Rail Yards, is the largest contemporary multi-arts centre of its kind in Australia. The distinctive nineteenth-century industrial characteristics of the former railway carriage and blacksmith workshops have been retained, with many heritage iron and brick details featured in the regeneration of the building. Carriageworks joined the Biennale of Sydney as a venue partner for the first time in 2014.
Inscribed on the UNSECO World-Heritage List as one of the best surviving examples of convict transportation and colonial expansion through convict labour, Cockatoo Island was off-limits to the public for more than 100 years. It is Sydney’s largest island, and as a result of its pivotal role in Australia’s convict and defence history, it retains an incredible legacy of over 80 colonial and industrial assets including buildings, cranes, docks and slipways. The Biennale first used Cockatoo Island as a venue in 2008. The 21st Biennale of Sydney will span the breadth of the island.
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Located at Sydney’s iconic Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is Australia’s pre-eminent art museum devoted to collecting and exhibiting the work of contemporary artists. In 2018, the MCA will continue its role as a venue partner of the Biennale of Sydney, hosting significant components of the Biennale’s exhibition across two floors of the Museum.
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most significant building and busiest performing arts centre. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it was the venue of the inaugural Biennale of Sydney, which took place to coincide with the building’s opening in 1973. The Opera House has been used as a venue several times in the Biennale’s history.
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (4A) fosters excellence and innovation in contemporary culture through the commissioning, presentation, documentation and research of contemporary art. 4A’s program is presented throughout Australia and Asia, ensuring that contemporary art plays a central role in understanding and developing the dynamic relationship between Australia and the wider Asian region. In 2018, 4A will be a venue partner of the Biennale of Sydney for the second time.
Additional major events will be announced in December.
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Mami Kataoka: An Open Interview with Judy Annear, Penelope Seidler AM and Tony Bond
Location: Art Gallery of NSW, Centenary Auditorium
Date: 13 December 2017
Time: 6-7.30 pm
Director’s Cut: Mami Kataoka in Conversation with Michael Brand, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE and Lisa Havilah
Location: MCA Australia, Veolia Theatre
Date: 28 February 2018
Time: 6-7.30 pm
The 21st Biennale of Sydney title borrows the quantum mechanical term ‘superposition’ to link the notions of equilibrium and engagement. In quantum theory, ‘superposition’ refers to the ability of electrons to occupy multiple states at once, to simultaneously take opposing paths and end up in different places. It is only with the application of measurement that matter is reduced to a single definition.
SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium and Engagement will examine the state of ‘superposition’ by examining how it might operate in the world today. We are surrounded by conflicting ideas across all levels of humanity: different cultures; readings of nature and the universe; political ideologies and systems of government; interpretations of human history, the history of art and definitions of contemporary art.
Correspondingly, according to the theory of ‘Wu Xing’ in ancient Chinese natural philosophy, everything in this world is comprised of five main elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each element gives rise to the next – either through a process of symbiosis, where one element encourages the formation of the others in a circulatory system, or a situation of mutual conflict and antagonism, in which each element resists and suppresses the others. In reality, diverse elements come together in a state of repeated collision, collapse and rebirth.
The participating artists in the 21st Biennale of Sydney have been chosen to offers a panoramic view of how opposing understandings and interpretations can come together in a state of ‘equilibrium.’ My hope is that their artworks will serve as a catalyst for thinking about these principles and concerns, taking one’s own position in society as a starting point.
Internationally renowned curator Mami Kataoka is a key figure in analysing socio-historical and generational trends, particularly in the context of Japanese and Asian art, and frequently writes and lectures on contemporary art in Asia.
She has held the position of Chief Curator of the Mori Art Museum (MAM) in Tokyo since 2009, and Senior Curator since 2003. At MAM, Kataoka has curated numerous notable exhibitions including ‘Roppongi Crossing’ (survey show of contemporary Japanese art) (2004, 2013), ‘Sensing Nature: Perception of Nature in Japan’ (2010); as well as major survey shows of prominent artists in Asia such as Tsuyoshi Ozawa, Ai Weiwei, Lee Bul, Makoto Aida, Lee Mingwei and N.S. Harsha.
The Professional Preview takes place from 13-15 March 2018 and is open to arts professionals and media. Register for accreditation today.
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The Biennale of Sydney values the individual worth, uniqueness and diversity of all people. We seek to remove barriers to participation in our volunteer program that will enable all people to meet their full potential, and experience meaningful involvement with the Biennale.
For more information about volunteering with the Biennale of Sydney, please contact: Frances Robinson Volunteer Manager +61 2 8484 8703
The Biennale is made possible through the commitment of generous supporters who ensure the exhibition remains free for all to enjoy. We raise over 60 percent of our budget through philanthropy and partnerships. The participation of exceptional Australian and international contemporary artists, the commissioning of ambitious new works and the creation of engagement and learning opportunities for thousands of people through our public program is possible because of this support.
The Biennale of Sydney applauds 40 years of patronage by
Transfield Holdings and the Belgiorno-Nettis Family
The Biennale Archive includes physical records from the first twenty editions of the Biennale of Sydney, forming the most comprehensive archive of national and international art activity in Australia. Since the first edition in 1973 the Biennale has featured over 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries and has grown to become one of Australia’s great cultural events. The Biennale of Sydney has been supported by Transfield Holdings specifically to enable the documentation of the Biennale Archive and its gifting to the Art Gallery of New South Wales as part of the Gallery’s new National Art Archive initiative.
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