21st Biennale of Sydney

16 March — 11 June 2018

Thursday, 15 March, 2018, 6–7pm

Ai Weiwei in conversation with Mami Kataoka


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.

Ai Weiwei Law of the Journey, 2017
Thursday, 15 March 2018, 8.30pm

Sydney Premiere:
Human Flow, a film by Ai Weiwei


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.

HUMAN FLOW, (video still), Ai Weiwei, 2017. Courtesy Ai Weiwei Studio and Roadshow.

2018 marks the 45th anniversary
of the Biennale of Sydney and its 21st edition.

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

Art Gallery of New South Wales

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.




    Photo by Zan Wimberley


      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.


        Cockatoo Island

        Cockatoo Island

        Cockatoo Island
        Image courtesy of Airview Online


          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

          Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

          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

            Sydney Opera House

            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 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.



                • Julian Abraham ‘Togar’
                • Eija-Liisa Ahtila
                • Ai Weiwei
                • Brook Andrew
                • Sydney Ball
                • Marc Bauer
                • Oliver Beer
                • Michaël Borremans
                • Miriam Cahn
                • Francisco Camacho Herrera
                • Chen Shaoxiong
                • Tiffany Chung
                • Abraham Cruzvillegas
                • Roy de Maistre
                • Marjolijn Dijkman
                • Lili Dujourie
                • Luciano Fabro
                • Sam Falls
                • Marco Fusinato
                • Anya Gallaccio
                • Ryan Gander
                • Geng Xue
                • Simryn Gill
                • Marlene Gilson
                • Tanya Goel
                • Laurent Grasso
                • N.S. Harsha
                • Chia-Wei Hsu
                • Ami Inoue
                • Mit Jai Inn
                • Sosa Joseph
                • Jacob Kirkegaard
                • Yvonne Koolmatrie
                • Suzanne Lacy
                • Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen
                • Liza Lou
                • Nicholas Mangan
                • Cercle d'Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise (CATPC) with Baloji and Renzo Martens
                • Prabhavathi Meppayil
                • Kate Newby
                • Nguyen Trinh Thi
                • Tom Nicholson
                • Noguchi Rika
                • Ciara Phillips
                • Tawatchai Puntusawasdi
                • Koji Ryui
                • Sa Sa Art Projects
                • Khaled Sabsabi
                • Semiconductor
                • Yasmin Smith
                • Dimitar Solakov
                • Michael Stevenson
                • Svay Sareth
                • Rayyane Tabet
                • Akira Takayama
                • Maria Taniguchi
                • Esme Timbery
                • George Tjungurrayi
                • Su-Mei Tse
                • Martin Walde
                • Roy Wiggan
                • Riet Wijnen
                • Nicole Wong
                • Wong Hoy Cheong
                • Yukinori Yanagi
                • Haegue Yang
                • Jun Yang
                • Yarrenyty Arltere Artists
                • Samson Young
                • Biennale of Sydney Archive


                Additional major events will be announced in December.

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                Biennale Archive Stories #5

                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
                Cost: Free

                Biennale Archive Stories #6

                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
                Cost: Free


                Mami Kataoka,
                Artistic Director

                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.

                Mami Kataoka, Artistic Director of the 21st Biennale of Sydney

                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.

                Since its inception in 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has provided a platform for art and ideas, showcasing the work of nearly 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries. Today it is considered one of the leading international contemporary art events, recognised for commissioning and presenting innovative, thought provoking art from Australia and around the world.

                Professional Preview

                The Professional Preview takes place from 13-15 March 2018 and is open to arts professionals and media. Register for accreditation today.

                Plan Your Sydney Experience

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                Press Releases

                21st Biennale of Sydney Unveils Artistic Program

                Media Contacts


                Join us and take part in bringing art and people together. Being a volunteer with the 21st Biennale of Sydney offers a rewarding opportunity to discover more about contemporary art and meet new friends.

                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.

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                Frances Robinson
                Volunteer Manager
                +61 2 8484 8703


                Major Government Partners

                AU VISAC STRAT
                AU COUNC ARTS
                CREATE NSW
                C C SYDNEY

                Principal Patron


                Principal Partner

                Major Foundations

                Venue Partners

                Supporting Foundations

                IPF OUTSET
                ISHIBASHI F
                Korea Foundation
                NELSON MEERS F

                Contributing Partners

                AU I I
                AU GOV A-J F
                BRITISH C
                CANADA C
                CREATIVE NZ
                EMB FRANCE
                INSTITUT F
                NCF LUXEMB
                UNSW AD

                Contributing Foundations

                Japan Foundation
                ORANGES AND SARDINES

                Founding Patrons

                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.

                The Biennale invites your organisation to join our community of highly respected partners who enjoy the benefits of collaborating with Australia’s most prominent contemporary arts organisation with a significant local and international audience. We are committed to developing mutually beneficial partnerships that achieve your corporate goals.

                To become a Partner of the 21st Biennale of Sydney, please contact:
                Anna Young
                Partnerships Manager
                +61 2 8484 8724


                FOUNDING GOVERNOR
                • Franco Belgiorno-Nettis AC CBE
                FOUNDING PATRONS
                • The Belgiorno-Nettis Family
                • Transfield Holdings
                • The Neilson Foundation
                • Susan Acret and James Roth
                • Anonymous
                • Breen Mills Foundation
                • Bridging Hope Charity Foundation
                • Outset England, Outset Israel, white rainbow
                • Julian Knights AO and Lizanne Knights
                • Penelope Seidler AM
                • Dr Gene Sherman AM and Mr Brian Sherman AM
                • Geoff Ainsworth AM and Johanna Featherstone
                • Andrew Cameron AM and Cathy Cameron
                • Amanda Harkness and Karen Barrett
                • Vicki Olsson
                • Roslyn and Tony Oxley
                • Dr Dick Quan and John McGrath
                • Lorraine Tarabay and Nick Langley
                • Georgie and Alastair Taylor
                • Chizuko Yashiro
                • Glen and Sakie Fukushima
                • Ginny and Leslie Green
                • Stephanie and Julian Grose
                • Elizabeth Laverty
                • Medich Foundation
                • Nelson Meers Foundation
                • Janie Michell
                • Victoria Miro Gallery
                • Yoshiko Mori
                • John Sharpe and Claire Armstrong
                • Silverlens
                • Mercedes Zobel
                • Antoinette Albert
                • Richard Banks and Chrissie Jeffery
                • Ahmed Begdouri and Martin Browne
                • Dr Candice Bruce in memory of Michael Whitworth
                • Candy Bennett and Edwina Lehmann
                • Teresa Biet
                • Andrew Birch and Cheryl Sing
                • Peter Braithwaite
                • Susan Cocks and Dr Ben Robinson
                • Sarah Cottier and Ashley Barber
                • James Darling AM and Lesley Forwood
                • Hon Mrs Ashley Dawson-Damer AM
                • DETACHED, Hobart
                • Richard and Harriett England
                • Barbara Flynn
                • Heidi Forbes
                • Rick and Jan Frolich
                • Ross and Jinnie Gavin
                • Danny Goldberg OAM and Lisa Goldberg
                • GrantPirrie Private
                • Julian and Stephanie Grose
                • Stephanie and Ian Hardy
                • Susan Hilliard and Shane Allan
                • Sam and Margo Hill-Smith
                • Neil Hobbs and Karina Harris
                • Mark Hughes
                • David and Angela Kent
                • Annette Larkin
                • Lewin Foundation
                • David and Dorienne Light
                • Amanda and Andrew Love
                • Benjamin Mangold
                • Robyn Martin-Weber
                • Nanda Hobbs Contemporary
                • Mark and Louise Nelson
                • Dr Clinton Ng and Steven Johnson
                • Lisa and Egil Paulsen
                • John Phillips
                • PublicArt Works
                • Belinda and Bill Pulver
                • Alice and Daniel Quai
                • Amelia Ramsden and Kamil Kreiser
                • Elizabeth Ramsden
                • Reliable Source Industrial (Cambodia) Co.,Ltd
                • John Schaeffer AO and Bettina Dalton
                • Gosia Schild
                • Anna and Morry Schwartz
                • Richard Sharpe
                • Vivienne Sharpe
                • Lawrence Smith and Anthea Williamson
                • Ezekiel Solomon AM
                • Jennifer Stafford and Jon Nicholson
                • Joanna Strumpf and Ursula Sullivan
                • Taka Ishii Gallery
                • Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
                • Lucy Turnbull
                • Vanessa Tay
                • Dr Terry Wu and Dr Melinda Tee
                • Michael Whitworth and Dr Candice Bruce
                • Di Yeldham and Ali Yeldham
                • Clitheroe Foundation
                • Dominik Mersch
                • STATION, Melbourne
                • Irene Sutton
                • Anna Waldmann

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                Stories from our Supporters

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                Sarah Hetherington
                Benefaction Manager
                +61 2 8484 8733