The Biennale of Sydney is a non-profit organisation that presents Australia's largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts event. Held every two years, the Biennale presents a three-month exhibition, plus a program of artist talks, performances, forums, film screenings, family events, guided tours and other special events, all FREE to the public.
The inaugural Biennale of Sydney was staged in 1973 to provide an international showcase for contemporary art. Its aim was to develop and present a program that challenged traditional thinking and encouraged new levels of enthusiasm for innovative creative expression. The 18th Biennale of Sydney marks the organisation’s 39th anniversary.
The Biennale of Sydney was the fourth recurring contemporary art exhibition to be established on the international calendar – after Venice (1895), São Paulo (1951) and Documenta (1955). The Biennale of Sydney quickly achieved international recognition and critical acclaim and, from a small start, quadrupled in size in less than a decade. Today it ranks as one of the leading international festivals of contemporary art in the world and continues to be recognised for showcasing the freshest and most provocative contemporary art from Australia and around the world.
The Biennale of Sydney has positioned Australia internationally amongst its peers and has developed an enthusiastic group of constituents locally; attested by its extraordinary growth in visitation and 17 groundbreaking exhibitions. In Australia, it is the only completely free festival of any scale, offering free programs, free educational resources and, where possible, free transport.
Our exhibitions, education and public programs, artists’ residencies and publications act as a cultural catalyst by encouraging innovation, experimentation and the communication of ideas. Our charter is to provide fresh curatorial perspective and independent artistic vision, and to act as a counterbalance to traditional institutionally driven programs, exhibitions and publications.
The Biennale’s evolution has been pivotal in promoting cultural exchange with Australia, championing free expression, unveiling new ideas and challenging the status quo – a history of 'firsts' that has attracted a healthy dose of controversy and public debate over the years.
As for previous Biennales, the 2012 exhibition will aim to invigorate and enrich Australian visual culture through a fertile cultural exchange program involving large numbers of artists, writers and curators. The Biennale of Sydney continues to be committed to presenting an exhibition and program of events that is free to all visitors.