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18th Biennale of Sydney

The joy of the Biennale is that it disproves that much beloved myth: that contemporary art is inaccessible, irritating and elitist. Thousands of pilgrims will ferry over to Cockatoo Island, once an industrial graveyard and now a premier entertainment and tourist precinct, and a work of art in and of itself. Not just a three-month exhibition and program of artist talks, performances, forums and film screenings (all free, might I add), the Biennale is also a link to that global art world which can often feel so far away from Australia.
By Lauren Carroll Harris
June 17, 2012
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18th Biennale of Sydney

The joy of the Biennale is that it disproves that much beloved myth: that contemporary art is inaccessible, irritating and elitist. Thousands of pilgrims will ferry over to Cockatoo Island, once an industrial graveyard and now a premier entertainment and tourist precinct, and a work of art in and of itself. Not just a three-month exhibition and program of artist talks, performances, forums and film screenings (all free, might I add), the Biennale is also a link to that global art world which can often feel so far away from Australia.
By Lauren Carroll Harris
June 17, 2012
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Is the Biennale of Sydney (BOS) the Australian art world's Hollywood blockbuster? It’s an institution. It is big budgets, celebrity artists and dazzling settings. But if it is art’s equivalent of the blockbuster, it’s not just disposable entertainment and pure spectacle. The BOS is also not just a three-month exhibition and program of artist talks, performances, forums and film screenings (all free, might I add). It’s also a link to the global art world, which can often feel far away from Australia. There are dozens of international artists exhibiting at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cockatoo Island, Walsh Bay, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Carriageworks.

The joy of the Biennale is that it disproves that much beloved myth: that contemporary art is inaccessible, irritating and elitist. The BoS, now coming of age with its eighteenth birthday, has thoroughly wound itself into Sydney, no, Australia’s, arts calendar. Thousands of pilgrims will ferry over to Cockatoo Island, once an industrial graveyard and now a premier entertainment and tourist precinct, and a work of art in and of itself. It is at once a portal into Sydney’s industrial past and a glimpse of contemporary art’s future. The big question is: will the Island overbear the curated artworks, as it has in earlier years?

Let’s do the impossible and pinpoint a couple of highlights. The 18th Biennale of Sydney, themed "all our relations", kicks off with a special ARTbar night at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday June 29. This is a new range of events for the MCA, and it’s exciting to see more Sydney institutions dip into the realm of late night programming with a focus on culture and community rather than clubbing and drunkenness. This ARTbar installment is all about the mechanics and bipolar excellence/strangeness of cinema. There’ll be pianos with pinballs, inflatable delusions, 1960’s 3D cinema and the opportunity to view the Biennale exhibition spaces on levels 1 and 3.

Lastly, Art Lounges at Cockatoo Island and Pier 2/3 will provide more free, public spaces to engage with the ideas of the Biennale. FBi Radio is coming on board to run the Biennale Bar from 6.30–9.30 pm every Friday throughout August (3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 August) at Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay.

Image by Ann Veronica Janssens "Blue Red and Yellow" (detail) 2001

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