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22nd Biennale of Sydney resumes after COVID-19 lockdown

22nd Biennale of Sydney resumes after COVID-19 lockdown
May 27, 2020

The Biennale of Sydney announced today that NIRIN, its 22nd edition, will see its venues reopen following the COVID-19 crisis fo an extended period. The Biennale was previously scheduled to conclude on 8th June 2020 but will now be opening free to the public with exhibition dates at each venue as follows:

  • Art Gallery of New South Wales 1st June to 27th September 2020
  • Artspace 1st June to 27th September 2020
  • Campbelltown Arts Centre 1st June to 11th October 2020
  • Cockatoo Island 16th June to 6th September 2020
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Australia 16th June to 6th September 2020 (closing date TBC)
  • In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Government, the National Art School is closed to the public. Thanks to the generous support of the Biennale’s Principal Patron, The Neilson Foundation, the works currently exhibited at the National Art School will be relocated to another location so that they are accessible to the public. More details on the new location will be available in the coming weeks.

Under the artistic direction of acclaimed Indigenous Australian artist, Brook Andrew, this year’s Biennale, which is artist- and First Nations-led, showcases more than 700 artworks by 101 artists and collectives from around the world. The exhibition opened to unprecedented acclaim in March but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, closed to the public after only 10 days.

Biennale of Sydney Chief Executive, Barbara Moore advised ‘Now, more than ever, we need art to connect, collaborate and heal – all core themes of NIRIN. Reopening the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with extended exhibition dates gives people an opportunity to enjoy some of the best contemporary art from around the world, and there is no better way to do that than through a physical experience.

“Audiences will be able to see Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens’ powerful installation in the vestibule of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (pictured above). Visitors can immerse themselves in Gamilaroi/Gomeroi Murri Yinah artist Barbara McGrady’s extensive photographic archive at Campbelltown Arts Centre and Tennant Creek Brio’s dynamic series of paintings at Artspace. At the MCA, video works by Aziz Hazara and Erkan Özgen can be experienced as the artists envisaged them, and visitors to Cockatoo Island will have the complete sensory experience of Ibrahim Mahama’s large scale installation in the Turbine Hall. There is so much more to experience, and there is plenty of time to see it all."

During this unprecedented time, the Biennale of Sydney found new ways to support artists and audiences, reaching more than 600,000 people through digital programming. Over 45% of the Biennale’s digital audience is international, and over 25% are under 35. NIRIN WIR – the Biennale’s program public events – is postponed until further notice, but the digital program which has demonstrated strong engagement will continue.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore advises “Artistic Director Brook Andrew put together a wonderful program for this year’s Biennale of Sydney and it was devastating when it had to close to the public after just 10 days. I am impressed with how quickly the organisation worked to take exhibitions and programs online and now, as we prepare for restrictions to ease in galleries and cultural spaces, the Biennale of Sydney has moved swiftly to reopen physically and extend its dates. As we grapple with the effects of the coronavirus crisis, it is right that art is at the centre of our recovery– and I look forward to visiting the Biennale of Sydney soon.”

Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher noted “The Biennale of Sydney has shown great leadership, innovation and generosity in engaging with audiences online throughout COVID-19 and now is moving quickly to reopen its doors so people can experience exhibitions in person. The Australian Government is proud to be a long-term supporter of the Biennale, and I am pleased to see that audiences will soon be able to return to the festival in its physical form as social distancing restrictions ease and we move towards recovery.”

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres also added “the NSW Government is delighted by the decision to re-open the 22nd Biennale of Sydney from 16th June. The organisers have shown incredible ingenuity during these challenging times by reimagining the exhibition for a digital audience, but with the easing of restrictions from 1st June, this is an exciting opportunity for people to enjoy this year’s Biennale of Sydney up close and in person. It’s also the perfect reason for any art-enthusiasts from around NSW to book a long weekend in Sydney to marvel at the many artworks and installations on show – all while helping our tourism industry get back on its feet.”

The Biennale of Sydney is aligning with the Government’s recommended safety protocols for the physical exhibition, working closely with all exhibition partners to ensure the Biennale remains a safe place to visit with strict social distancing and hygiene protocols in place. An overview of those measures will be available in the coming weeks on the Biennale website at www.biennaleofsydney.art.

Images: Tennant Creek Brio at Artspace (top) and Karla Dickens at AGNSW (above). All images by Karen Sweaney, Editor, Australasian Leisure Management.

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