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The Biennale of Sydney team shows off at White Bay Power Station
Photograph: Biennale of Sydney/Daniel Boud | The Biennale team shows off at White Bay Power Station

Everything we know so far about the Biennale of Sydney in 2024

We now know all the locations and artists for Australia’s biggest contemporary art event (plus, a look inside White Bay Power Station)

Alannah Le Cross
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Alannah Le Cross
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Attention all art lovers and city explorers, Australia’s biggest contemporary art event is landing back in the Harbour City in 2024, across multiple locations. The 24th Biennale of Sydney kicks off on March 9, 2024, under the title Ten Thousand Suns – and as always, it’ll be cost-free for everyone to explore. 

On Tuesday, October 31, the Biennale finally announced all of the artists, locations and initial programming. Time Out was there to get the scoop when the Biennale invited in the media to suss out the program, along with the current construction zone of the White Bay Power Station, which will be opened up to the public for the first time ever for the 2024 Biennale (check out our sneak peek video on Instagram). Here’s everything we know so far.

Where will the Biennale of Sydney be located in 2024?

The Biennale announced the first location, White Bay Power Station in Rozelle, to much excitement in September – marking the first time the revitalised site will open its doors to the public in more than 100 years (more on this below). Now we also know the other locations the Biennale is also taking over: there’s old friends the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the newly revamped Artspace in Woolloomooloo, UNSW Galleries in Paddington,  and for the first time, the Biennale is heading to the stunning Chau Chak Wing Museum – opened in late 2020, this purpose-built museum thoughtfully combines art, science and history collections from the University of Sydney’s archives. 

24th Biennale of Sydney Artistic Directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero at White Bay Power Station.
Photograph: Biennale of Sydney/Joshua Morris | 24th Biennale of Sydney artistic directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero at White Bay Power Station.

What’s happening with White Bay Power Station?

White Bay Power Station is absolutely the main character of the Biennale’s 50th year anniversary edition. A landmark of the Inner West, the state heritage-listed station was built from 1912 to 1917, and operated right up until it was decommissioned in 1984. The location is undergoing extensive remediation and conservation works to be repurposed as an arts, cultural and community hub. The 2024 Biennale of Sydney marks the first time the community is welcomed in – with a 16-week program of installations, events, food vendors and bars taking over both day and night. The Power Station will serve a similar purpose to what Cockatoo Island has been to the Biennale in the past, minus the ferry ride. (It looks like Carriageworks could have a contender for the title of Sydney’s coolest arts venue to take over a great big former industrial site?)

What else is happening for the Biennale?

The three-month-long exhibitions spread across all six locations will be, as always, free to explore and no bookings are required. There are also ticketed events running alongside the artworks, and you’ll want to book in soon to avoid missing out. It all kicks off with the opening night concert Lights On at White Bay Power Station on Friday March 8, 2024. With an outdoor stage curated by Phoenix Central Park, the line-up is headlined by Belgian international dance-pop sensations Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul. The night will also see roving performers traversing the halls, as well as an indoor dancefloor using El Gran Mono, a traditional Colombian picó sound system and one of the Biennale’s exhibited artworks. (Tickets are $55-$75 and on sale now.)

During opening weekend, free performances and art activations will take place, including Spotlight Artist Talks where artists present alongside their works, as well as performances by exhibiting artists including Eric-Paul Riege and Cristina Flores Pescorán.

Throughout the Biennale there will be daily free art tours for everyone to enjoy, plus dedicated student workshops, three family days curated by disability arts organisations and practitioners, and regular Wednesday evening contemporary music nights curated by Phoenix Central Park that will be ticketed through a ballot system.

What is the theme for the 2024 Sydney Biennale?

Led by artistic directors Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero and titled Ten Thousand Suns, the 24th Biennale of Sydney "proposes celebration as both a method and a source of joy, produced in common and broadly shared." Marking the Biennale of Sydney's 50th anniversary year, the theme challenges Western fatalistic constructions of the apocalypse and embraces a hopeful outlook around a possible future lived in joy. 

As always, there’s a lot going on thematically. But just lean in, there’s rich ideas to explore in each thread, and the themes seem to work hand-in-hand together – from the celebration of the resurgence of First Nations technologies and knowledges, to the history of Islam in Australia, to queer resilience, and the international expression of Carnivale. The program also explores the atomic era, a concentrated time of climate alteration through human exploitation, within the context of today's moment of climate emergency and a refusal to concede to an apocalyptic vision of the future. (We love an existential vibe with a throughline of hope!) 

Dylan Mooney, 'Still Thriving' (from the Still Thriving series), 2023
Image: Supplied/Biennale of Sydney | Dylan Mooney, 'Still Thriving' (from the Still Thriving series), 2023

Who are the artists are participating in the Biennale of Sydney?

The 2024 edition will feature 88 artists and collectives from 47 countries, each having practices firmly rooted in diverse communities and artistic vocabularies. Of these, 14 First Nations artists, including (but not exclusively) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, have been commissioned to create new work under the guidance of artist Tony Albert as the Biennale’s inaugural Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain First Nations curatorial fellow – this is part of an ongoing partnership between the Fondation Cartier (a Paris-based contemporary art museum) and the Biennale of Sydney.

We’re keen to see new stuff from queer First Nations artist Dylan Mooney; Australian artist collective VNS Matrix, recognised for spearheading the cyberfeminist movement in the 1990s; Maru Yacco, an important figure in the Japanese LGBTQIA+ community, known for her brightly coloured artworks informed by Japanese popular and sub-culture; and Melbourne-based, Afghanistan born artist Elyas Alavi’s exploration of the history of Australia’s Afghan cameleers. Keep an eye out also for Sydney locals like performance artist Tommy Misa, whose new commission titled Working Class Clown is inspired by the Samoan political satire tradition of Fale Aitu and the drag scene of Sydney’s yesteryear; as well as soft sculptures and workshops for the whole family from artist Amy Claire Mills, whose resistance-informed practice is influenced by her experiences as a disabled woman. 

Biennale of Sydney | Maru Yacco, 'Form of Happiness (1996)'
Photograph: ZIGEN/Biennale of Sydney | Maru Yacco, 'Form of Happiness (1996)'

There will be a posthumous presentation of nine paintings by Chinese-American painter Martin Wong, who was known for his work documenting New York in the 1980s before he passed away from AIDS-related illness in 1999. You can also see a painting by Frank Moore, a respected American artist and activist with a surrealist style who passed away from AIDS-related illness in 2002. 

These artists join the first batch announced, including ground-breaking Ashanti/Australian digital artist and Time Out Future Shaper Serwah Attafuah; social history photographer and national treasure William Yang, Indigenous contemporary artist Tracey Moffat, who is known for her iconic work in film collage; and Delhi-born, Sydney-based artist Kirtika Kain, who examines caste and identity through diverse alchemical and experimental printmaking processes. The full list of artists announced so far can be found at biennaleofsydney.art

Who are the curators for the Biennale of Sydney in 2024?

Cosmin Costinaș and Inti Guerrero are frequent collaborators, and their exhibitions embrace the multiplicities of people’s viewpoints, reflected in the unique experiences and possibilities that art can provide, inviting people to challenge and be challenged, to learn and celebrate together. Romanian-born Costinaș was the curator of the Romanian Pavilion for the 59th Venice Biennale (2022), and Colombian-born Guerrero was a tutor of the Curatorial Studies programme at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts-KASK, Ghent, and the artistic director of bap - bellas artes projects, Manila (2018-2022). Australia’s vibrant communities are central to Costinaș and Guerrero’s curatorial thinking for the Biennale, while also seeing it as a place that reaffirms the urgency for international dialogue. 

How much does the Biennale of Sydney cost?

The Biennale of Sydney's exhibitions are always free to visit across all locations, including those in art galleries. The Biennale is committed to free access for all and serves people of all ages and cultures. You should consider costs of public transport into your visit. Food and drinks sold at Biennale location also cost money, so we suggest bringing a packed lunch and a water bottle if you're short on cash (and/or keen on the environment). Artist Spotlight Talks, roaming performances and art tours are also included for free. 

In addition, there are also some ticketed events that you do have to hand over cash for, including the Lights On opening night party ($55-$75). 
Meanwhile, the Art After Dark series – curated by Phoenix Central Park at White Bay Power Station – is free to attend, but you do need to enter a ballot for a ticket

When is the 2024 Biennale of Sydney?

The Biennale will be held over three months from March 9 through to June 10, 2024. 

How often is Sydney's art Biennale?

The Biennale of Sydney is held every two years in Sydney, across multiple locations including art galleries and public spaces, and generally runs for three months between March and June. 

The full 24th Biennale of Sydney program, including a full list of participating artists can be found at biennaleofsydney.art.

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