Ten Thousand Suns: 24th Biennale of Sydney

More than 400-plus works are on display, created by 96 artists and collectives, at Sydney's biennial citywide art celebration.
Sarah Ward
March 08, 2024

Overview

The Harbour City doesn't lack art highlights all year, every year, but every two years the New South Wales capital plays host to the Biennale of Sydney. 2024 is one such year, with a hefty lineup taking over the city from Saturday, March 9–Monday, June 10 under the theme Ten Thousand Suns.

White Bay Power Station is opening to the public for the first time in over a century for the Biennale, which is a huge highlight of the program. Of course, so are the 96 artists and collectives contributing 400-plus pieces across the event. Australia is represented, naturally, as is everywhere from Aotearoa New Zealand, Indonesia, India and Japan to Ukraine, Brazil, Mexico, the UK and the US.

International talents include Andrew Thomas Huang, Adebunmi Gbadebo, Pacific Sisters, Martin Wong, Frank Moore, Maru Yacco and Anne Samat. Among the Aussies: Gordon Hookey, Tracey Moffatt, Serwah Attafuah, William Yang, VNS Matrix, Kirtika Kain, Joel Sherwood Spring and Juan Davila.

Also, 14 First Nations artists have been commissioned by Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, one of the Biennale's partners, to make new works just for the event: Mangala Bai Maravi, Doreen Chapman, Megan Cope, Cristina Flores Pescorán, Freddy Mamani and Dylan Mooney, as well as Orquideas Barrileteras, John Pule, Eric-Paul Riege, Darrell Sibosado, Kaylene Whiskey, Yangamini, and Nikau Hindin in collaboration with Ebonie Fifita-Laufilitoga-Maka, Hina Puamohala Kneubuhl, Hinatea Colombani, Kesaia Biuvanua and Rongomai Gbric-Hoskins.

Citra Sasmita, Timur Merah Project X: Bedtime Story, 2023, acrylic on traditional Kamasan canvas, oak dowels. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia-Indonesia Institute. Timur Merah Project IV: Tales of Nowhere, 2020, acrylic on traditional Kamasan canvas, oak dowels. Commissioned by UOB for Children Art Space MACAN Museum Jakarta, Indonesia 2020. Courtesy the artist and Yeo Workshop, Singapore. Photo by David James.

Expect to enjoy Mooney's mural tribute to Malcolm Cole, the queer queer First Nations dancer and activist who created history by leading the first-ever Aboriginal float at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in 1988 — and also Sibosado's riji (aka pearl shell) designs in neon. Both feature at White Bay Power Station, as does VNS Matrix's exploration of women and technology via banners.

Chau Chak Wing Museum joins the Biennale of Sydney footprint for the first time, which is where Mangala Bai Maravi and Wong have pieces — one continuing to preserve tattooing patterns used by her people, India's Baiga group; the other being celebrated posthumously with nine paintings that focus on queer sexuality, as well ethnic and racial identities.

At White Bay Power Station and Artspace, Indigenous weaving and jewellery making are in the spotlight via Riege. Also at the latter venue, Gbadebo is displaying new ceramic works that continue her interrogation of her family's past and America's history of slavery. And over at the Art Gallery of NSW, Hookey and Yacco will have works on offer.

The lineup also spreads over to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, which is where pieces by Moore and Kain feature — and to UNSW Galleries, where Sherwood and Elyas Alavi will be found. Whoever is showcased where, they're pondering heat, power, light, summer, joy, strength, the changing climate and everything else that the sun brings to mind. And, they're part of a lineup that also includes artist talks, art tours, workshops, music and more.

Daniel Boud

Top images:Installation view, Ten Thousand Suns, 24th Biennale of Sydney 2024, Art Gallery of New South Wales, featuring art by Pacific Sisters (foreground) and Robert Gabris (wall) photo © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Christopher Snee // Daniel Boud.

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