Biennale of Sydney

Mini Essay: Whose City?

Inner Sydney is located on the lands and waters of the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, and the Biennale pays respects to Elders past and present, the custodians of the land where we live and work, and we acknowledge all the First Peoples in our community.

Today nearly five million people – almost one in five Australians – live in Sydney, which has seen waves of immigration since colonisation. More than 40% of the city’s population was born overseas, and we have diverse cultural heritage, including British, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, New Zealand, Italian, Greek, and German. This mix of cultures ties us to both to our geographical location in Southeast Asia, and to many places in Europe, not just the British heritage of our complex colonial past. It also asks us to acknowledge and respect the First Peoples of Australia, and the consequences of that colonial past in the present.

While some define a global city through its interaction with other economic centres, characterised by international finance, multimedia services, and telecommunications and travel, quality of life is increasingly part of how we understand cities today.

The culture of a city – its cultural life – is a key part of its liveability, and has been the motor of urban renewal and policy in many world cities, forming a backdrop to both local government initiatives and the work of property developers.

At the same time, we are living through the most urbanised period in history: a time defined by the impact we are having on the planet through our consumption and destruction of the environment and its natural resources.

It is in this context we need to formulate new ideas of society and politics, place and citizenship, migration and community.

Other Mini Essays