23 May 2018


We love it when art takes over the city, and the Biennale of Sydney does it better than anyone else. Perhaps Australia's best-known contemporary art event, the Sydney Biennale will take place for the 21st time in 2018 with 70 leading local and international artists presenting work across seven of Sydney's top-notch galleries, museums and unconventional spaces. A free exhibition, the Biennale of Sydney is held from Friday, March 16 until Monday, June 11.


As per the first announcement, provocative Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is the headline act, which comes off the back of his 2016 double-bill exhibition alongside the works of Andy Warhol at the National Gallery of Victoria — the highest selling event in the gallery's history. At the Sydney Opera House, Weiwei will screen his new feature-length cinematic documentary Human Flow, which explores the global refugee crisis across 23 countries in a single year. He'll also install a 60-metre-long inflatable boat on Cockatoo Island, which will be made from the same materials as the boats used by asylum seekers crossing the Aegean Sea.


Meanwhile, there's French multimedia artist Laurent Grasso, whose art considers science and the supernatural; the sculptural works of South Korean artist Haegue Yang who transforms space with found and forged objects; British artist Oliver Beer uses the human voice to take over the Opera House for his acclaimed Resonance Project; and Sydney's own Yasmin Smith takes to Cockatoo Island to create a ceramics studio, an open-air kiln and a new installation that's finished in a hand-made wood ash glaze.


The first biennale under the leadership of recently appointed artistic director Mami Kataoka, 2018's event is based around the idea of 'superposition', a quantum mechanics term that refers to often-paradoxical and overlapping events. While it's a tad hard to explain, Kataoka says the 2018 biennale's artists have been chosen for their work's power to "offer a panoramic view of how opposing interpretations can come together in a state of equilibrium".


With three months to check out the work of so many great artists, there's no reason why you can't spend autumn cramming in as much art as you can handle. It's all free to attend.


By Hudson Brown