The 17th Biennale of Sydney has opened with one of its most ambitious programmes yet. From 12 May until 1 August, the public in Australia’s largest city will be able to take in works by some 166 artists from 36 countries shown in seven venues across the city.
At least 70 of the 440 works on show have been commissioned especially for the biennale, now in its 37th year. Based around the curatorial premise “THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age”, the red threads running through the selected and commissioned works inevitably pick up on both Australia and Sydney’s position in the world, both literally and more metaphorically. Naturally, a post-colonial glance at the history of the contemporary world seems to connect many of the works, something that resonates in some of the venues themselves. For example, in addition to the more museal venues, one particularly interesting venue is Cokatoo Island, by turns a convict prison and a ship dockyard and now one of the major venues for this outing of the biennial.
Drawing on the atmosphere and history of a location loaded with meaning, some 55 artists will show 120 works in the space, many of them site-specific.
Performed arts too have a strong presence in the programme that tries -perhaps unusually for a visual arts biennial- to actively connect the work of visual arts with that of contemporary filmmakers, writers and theatre practitioners.
So with the multitude of options on offer, there’s likely to be something of interest to anyone in or passing through the famed city around the bay for the next three and a half months.