Above: Artspace, one of the leading institutions for the production & presentation of contemporary art in the Asia Pacific, at the Biennale of Sydney. Photographer: Daniel Boud

Celebrating 50 Years of the Biennale of Sydney: A Journey Through Art and Culture

Celebrating its 50th anniversary milestone, the Biennale of Sydney art event (biennaleofsydney.art) stands as a cornerstone of Australia’s cultural engagement with the global artistic community, assuming a pivotal role in the nation’s artistic narrative. Over five decades, this renowned event has unified and invigorated the Australian arts landscape, imbuing Sydney’s everyday existence with daringly innovative exhibitions while thrusting Australia’s artistic prowess onto the international stage. 

Artist Darrell Sibosado posing in front of his neon light installation at Sydney Biennale 2024, White Bay Power Station

Contemporary artist Darrell Sibosado stands in front of his striking light installation at the Biennale of Sydney 2024, held at the iconic White Bay Power Station. Photographer: Daniel Boud.

A Half-Century of Artistic Innovation

Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney comments: “As the Biennale of Sydney celebrates its 50th year, we can’t wait to come together in joyful celebration. Admission is free, and we invite everyone to experience the most innovative contemporary art and ideas from around the world. Be inspired by the artwork and enjoy the robust program of music, food, talks, tours and performances, including our opening night event Lights On, throwing the doors of White Bay Power Station open to the public for the first time in over 100 years. This Biennale is not to be missed.” 

Since its inception, the Biennale event has showcased exceptional works by over 1,900 international artists hailing from 130 countries, embodying a commitment to inclusive access for all. As the largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia, the upcoming 24th edition promises to continue this legacy, spanning prestigious venues including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and the recently refurbished White Bay Power Station.  

A man in a checked suit stands contemplatively amidst a rich array of culturally significant tapestries by artist Alberto Pitta at the Sydney Biennale 2024, with one featuring bold red, black, and yellow colors with symbols, and others with intricate blue and yellow patterns

Tapestry display by Alberto Pitta at the Biennale of Sydney 2024, located within the industrial confines of the White Bay Power Station. Photographer: Daniel Boud

The 24th Edition of Biennale of Sydney: “Ten Thousand Suns”

Scheduled from March 9th to June 10th, 2024, the Biennale, under the artistic direction of Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero, envisions celebration as both a method and a source of joy, drawing inspiration from legacies of collective resistance and renewal.  

Commenting on the roots of this year’s edition, artistic Directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero say: “Ten Thousand Suns departs from an acknowledgement of a multiplicity of perspectives, cosmologies, and ways of life that have always woven together the world under the sun. A multiplicity of suns conveys ambiguous images. It evokes a scorching world, both in several cosmological visions and very much in our moment of climate emergency. But it also conveys the joy of cultural multiplicities affirmed, of First Nations understandings of the cosmos brought to the fore, and of carnivals as forms of resistance in contexts that have surpassed colonial oppression”.  

A person stands in awe beneath soaring, curved tapestries adorned with vibrant, elaborate designs in the Chau Chak Wing Museum, surrounded by richly colored walls that enhance the art's visual impact

Immersive art installation at the Chau Chak Wing Museum captures a solitary viewer engrossed in the mesmerizing sweep of traditional tapestries suspended in mid-air.

Engaging Programs: Beyond the Exhibition

The program for the 24th Biennale of Sydney delves into diverse thematic threads, ranging from the resurgence of indigenous technologies and queer resilience to global carnival traditions. It also confronts the challenges of the atomic era and contemporary climate crises, reframing narratives of apocalyptic fatalism into ones of hopeful communal creation. 

Featuring 96 artists and collectives from 50 countries and territories, including Aotearoa New Zealand, Brazil, India, Japan, and Ukraine, the 2024 edition promises a dynamic array of artworks, installations, and site-specific projects. A key highlight of this edition is the collaboration with the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, which has facilitated the commissioning of 14 First Nations artists, enriching the Biennale’s narrative with diverse indigenous perspectives and practices.  

A young girl in a white dress gazes up at a large, colorful wall installation with intricate beadwork and shimmering strands extending to the floor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Captivating artwork at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia presents a visual feast of color and texture, as observed by a young visitor.

Reflecting on the theme “Ten Thousand Suns,” Artistic Directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero emphasise a celebration of cultural multiplicities and solar forms of resistance, rejecting apocalyptic narratives in favour of collective futures lived in joy and abundance. Their vision encapsulates the essence of the 24th Biennale of Sydney: a vibrant convergence of artistic expression, cultural exchange, and hopeful transformation.