Image: Installation view of The Great Animal Orchestra at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2016. © Bernie Krause / © UVA. Photograph: Luc Boegly.

Sydney, Australia: Today, the Biennale of Sydney and Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain announced the Australian première of The Great Animal Orchestra.

The environmentally focused work by American pioneer soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause and London-based collective United Visual Artists will be presented free of charge at the Stargazer Lawn, Barangaroo for the duration of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, titled rīvus, from 12 March to 13 June 2022. Bookings are now open for timed ticketed entry to the immersive artwork.

A collision of culture and nature, The Great Animal Orchestra will take visitors out of city life and into tropical grasslands, savannas and Arctic tundra for an ‘otherworldly encounter’ with a soundscape of 15,000 animal species recorded over the last 50 years. After working with musicians like The Doors and creating effects for film scores including Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Bernie Krause turned his back on studio work and headed outdoors to focus on field recording.

Krause’s unparalleled research is a rare insight into the unseen world of animals. It reveals the beauty and the intricacy of animal vocalisations, which are now in danger of being silenced by human activity. Through his recording, Krause implores us to start listening before hush descends on the ‘great animal orchestra’. The immersive soundscape comes to life with visualisations, created by United Visual Artists, of each animal’s contributions to the ‘orchestra’ in vulnerable habitats in Africa, North America, the Pacific Ocean and the Amazonas (Amazon River).

Bernie Krause, musician and soundscape ecologist said: ‘This is the tuning of the great animal orchestra, the planet’s deeply connected expression of natural sounds and rhythm. It is likely that the origins of every piece of music we enjoy and word we speak come, at some point, from this collective voice. When we lived closer to the natural world, we sang as part of that animal chorus. Now we have a disconnect, we are not quite as healthy, vibrant or aware of the world around us.’

Hervé Chandès, General Director of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain said: “The Great Animal Orchestra immersive installation was commissioned by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain for the eponymous Paris exhibition in 2016. As part of the Fondation Cartier commitment to share artistic experiences far and wide, The Great Animal Orchestra was since presented with great acclaim in Shanghai, Seoul, Milan, London, Boston. Bernie Krause’s work teaches us that each animal species possesses its own acoustic animal signature that, like a musical instrument in an orchestra, positions itself with both precision and subtlety within the score of the soundscape of the ecosystem in which it lives. The polyphony of the great animal orchestra is rapidly being silenced and we believe we must band together to protect our natural resources and environments.”

José Roca, Artistic Director, 23rd Biennale of Sydney said: ‘Imagine stepping into a soundproofed black-box theatre whose walls spring to life with overlapping electrocardiograms, representing different species’ sounds. This darkened meditative space includes a shallow reflecting pool, which translates the deepest sounds of the ocean. Visitors can relax on cushions or stretch out on the floor, listening to the sounds of the animal world and reflecting through an emotional and sensory experience.’

NSW Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres said: ‘I am delighted The Great Animal Orchestra will be part of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney and will be free admission for all to enjoy. This presents an incredible opportunity for Sydneysiders and visitors to experience an unparalleled, international blockbuster exhibition unlike anything we have ever seen in NSW. The NSW Government is proud to support marquee events like the Biennale of Sydney, which showcase Sydney as the cultural events capital of Australia and will help achieve our goal of making NSW the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific.’

NSW Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said: ‘The Biennale of Sydney plays an integral role in Australia’s arts and cultural ecology by creating access for audiences to experience the work of local and international artists. The premiere of The Great Animal Orchestra at the 23rd Biennale of Sydney celebrates the connectivity that art enables, surfacing issues that encourage us to think differently and enrich our knowledge. This exciting work should give pause for reflection upon humankind’s impacts and interactions with the natural world, and how the simple act of listening can empower and inspire us.’

Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney said: ‘The Great Animal Orchestra has been presented to enormous international acclaim in Shanghai, Seoul, London, Milan and Boston, and attracted more than 200,000 visitors in Paris. Premièring this work in Australia in partnership with Foundation Cartier allows audiences to connect globally through this shared experience, sparking conversation about our impacts on the natural world we share.’

To book your free tickets to The Great Animal Orchestra, go to

Stay up to date on future program announcements at @biennalesydney on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All programs will have conditions of entry adhering to the relevant NSW Government Public Health Orders and health advice.

The full program of artworks for the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022) will be announced February 2022.


The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is a private cultural institution dedicated to breaking down the barriers between disciplines. Created in 1984 by the Maison Cartier, the historic institution is located in Paris in a building designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. Fostering surprising and unexpected encounters between artists, scientists, philosophers, musicians and architects from around the world, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain has established its exhibition galleries as a platform where artists, scientists, mathematicians, and anthropologists meet and create collective projects, and has built a unique collection that brings together more than 2000 works by 500 artists of 50 different nationalities. For more than two decades, the Fondation Cartier has engaged in projects that examine and address the most urgent issues facing the environment, animal life and Indigenous peoples. Immersive installations, like The Great Animal Orchestra, that are created at the initiative of the Fondation Cartier become part of its permanent collection and often tour institutions around the world (Paris, France 2016, Seoul, Korea 2017, Shanghai, China 2018, Milan, Italy and London, United Kingdom, 2019, Salem, Massachusetts, United States 2021, Lille, France 2022).

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Since 1968, Bernie Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Biruté Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape as each establishes frequency and/or temporal bandwidth within a given habitat. His contributions helped establish the foundation of a new bioacoustic discipline: soundscape ecology. Krause has produced over 50 natural soundscape albums in addition to the design of interactive, non-redundant environmental sound sculptures for museums and other public spaces throughout the world. His installations can be experienced at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), the California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Chicago Science Museum, the American Museum of Natural History (New York City), five special commissions at the World Financial Center (New York City) and more than 30 other venues across North America and Europe.

United Visual Artists (UVA) is a London-based collective founded in 2003 by British artist Matt Clark. Its diverse body of work integrates new technologies with traditional media such as sculpture, performance and site-specific installation. Drawing from sources ranging from ancient philosophy to theoretical science, the practice explores the cultural frameworks and natural phenomena that shape our cognition, creating instruments that manipulate our perception and expose the relativity of our experiences. Rather than material objects, UVA’s works are better understood as events in time in which the performance of light, sound and movement unfolds. UVA has been commissioned internationally by institutions including the Barbican Curve Gallery (London); Serpentine Gallery (London); Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, (Paris), YCAM (Tokyo) and others.

The Biennale of Sydney is a leading international contemporary art event. It plays an indispensable role in Australia’s engagement with the world, and a meaningful role in the life of the nation. For almost 50 years, the Biennale has been a unifying force in the Australian arts sector, embedding boldly creative art exhibitions and experiences in the everyday life of Sydney and putting the artistic excellence of Australia front and centre on the world stage. The Biennale of Sydney has commissioned and presented exceptional works of art by more than 1900 national and international artists from more than 130 countries. The Biennale of Sydney is committed to free access for all.

Situated along the waterways of the Gadigal and Burramattagal people, the Biennale of Sydney in 2022 titled rīvus will be articulated through a series of conceptual wetlands and imagined ecosystems populated by artworks, public programs, experiments, research and activisms, following the currents of meandering tributaries that expand into a delta of interrelated ideas.

rīvus, meaning ‘stream’ in Latin, will enable aqueous beings – rivers, wetlands and other salt and freshwater ecosystems – to share a dialogue with artists, architects, designers, scientists, and communities. Considering the water ecology’s perspective raises unlikely questions: Can a river sue over psychoactive sewage? Will oysters grow teeth in aquatic revenge? What do the eels think? Are waves the ocean’s desire?’

Those invited to take part in the Biennale will be known as ‘participants’ rather than ‘artists’, reflecting their diverse talents, skills, practices and modes of being that extend beyond the realm of the visual arts. The participants announced today live across six continents and 33 countries such as Cameroon, Cuba, Venezuela, Slovenia, Taiwan, Tonga and the Netherlands.

The list of participants is available at

The Curatorium developing and realising the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022) includes:

  • José Roca, Artistic Director, 23rd Biennale of Sydney
  • Paschal Daantos Berry, Head of Learning and Participation, Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Anna Davis, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Hannah Donnelly, Producer, First Nations Programs, Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.)
  • Talia Linz, Curator, Artspace


For further information please contact:

Sasha Haughan,, +61 405 006 035
Jasmine Hersee,, +61 451 087 196
Kym Elphinstone, +61 421 106 139