Images (clockwise from top left): Karla Dickens, Hokey Pokey, 2019; Manuel Ocampo, As Blind as Bats Flying into the Midnight Sun (Homage to Chuck Z) from the series La Buena Vida, 2020. Photograph: Alex Robinson; Emily Karaka, Kingitanga ki Te Ao (They will throw stones), 2020.

From Wednesday, 23 September 2020, the Biennale’s global community of passionate supporters will come together to directly assist the artists featured in the 22nd edition, titled NIRIN, and the Biennale of Sydney through an online auction.

Globally, the arts community has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the artistic direction of acclaimed Indigenous Australian artist, Brook Andrew, this year’s Biennale, which is artist- and First Nations-led, showcases more than 700 artworks by 101 artists and collectives from around the world. The exhibition opened to unprecedented acclaim in March but, due to the global pandemic, closed to the public after only 10 days.

In June, after 10 weeks closed to the public, the NSW Government announced that museums and galleries were permitted to reopen. The free contemporary art exhibition presented across greater Sydney was previously scheduled to conclude on 8 June 2020, but the Biennale of Sydney rallied partner arts organisations to extend the exhibition period for NIRIN, incurring additional costs of $400,000.

Artists who are participating in the auction will generously donate 30% of all proceeds to the Biennale of Sydney – a not-for-profit organisation that has showcased the work of more than 1,900 artists from more than 100 countries for nearly 50 years – while 70% of proceeds will go directly to the artist.

This inaugural benefit auction will help ensure that the Biennale continues to commission new projects by some of the world’s most innovative artists and keep access to the best contemporary art free for all to enjoy.

Artists participating in the auction are Tony Albert, Charlotte Allingham, Maria Thereza Alves, ArTree Nepal, Denilson Baniwa, Eric Bridgeman, Colectivo Ayllu, Randy Lee Cutler, Jose Dávila, Karla Dickens, Demian DinéYazhi´ and R.I.S.E., Léuli Eshrāghi, Andre Eugene, Fátima Rodrigo Gonzales, Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre, Emily Karaka, Barbara McGrady, Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, John Miller, Jota Mombaça, Manuel Ocampo, Rosana Paulino, Laure Prouvost, Bhenji Ra, Anders Sunna, Tennant Creek Brio, Gina Athena Ulysse, Ahmed Umar and Pedro Wonaeamirri (with Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri).

Karla Dickens, who has chosen to donate all the proceeds from the sale of her work to the Biennale of Sydney as a gesture of solidarity with other artists, said: ‘NIRIN is an experience of human connection. Given the neglect of artists worldwide through such intense times, I see the opportunity to donate artwork to the Biennale auction as my duty; a duty of love to fellow artists, their work and their survival. Together we stand.’

Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney, said: ‘For many artists and organisations, the past six months have been rough, and a time of deep uncertainty. The Biennale of Sydney is grateful to our tremendous community who, by purchasing artworks through this auction, can keep a powerful piece of NIRIN for themselves once the exhibition is closed, and feel good about directly supporting participating artists and the Biennale.’

For business owners, under the small business tax allowance, the Australian Tax Office considers artworks as an investment and depreciating assets when bought by and for businesses. This makes purchasing art for your workplace under the Instant Asset Write-off scheme 100% tax deductible. Following the Budget Stimulus Package announced by the Prime Minister, there’s no limit to the number of artworks costing less than $150,000 to claim a tax deduction at the end of the financial year.

Bids for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN Benefit Auction will open via Galabid on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 at 9 am and close on Sunday, 27 September 2020 at 5 pm.

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney is open with free admission at Carriageworks until 26 September, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Artspace until 27 September and Campbelltown Arts Centre until 4 October 2020. The exhibition is now closed at Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Powerhouse Museum.


For interviews and images, contact:

Sasha Haughan 0405 006 035

Kym Elphinstone 0421 106 139.