10 artworks you must see at the Biennale of Sydney

The 20th Biennale of Sydney runs until June 5.

The 20th Biennale of Sydney kicked off today, March 18, and runs until June 5 across the city.

The free three-month contemporary art festival features more than 200 works by 83 artists from 35 countries, working under the theme “the future is already here” spanning 19 locations across the city.

There are seven main sites – the Biennale calls them “embassies of thought” to visit. The mother ship with the most works in Cockatoo Island, alongside the MCA, Art Gallery of NSW, Carriageworks and Artspace in Wolloomooloo.

In addition to the art, there are daily guided tours, artist and curator talks, lectures, performances, workshops, salons, reading groups and gatherings held across the seven venues.

The Biennale has even created itineraries to help you make the most out of a day around the sites

This weekend on Cockatoo Island (the Embassy of the Real) artist Justene Williams is collaborating with the Sydney Chamber Opera to present Victory Over the Sun; a radical revisiting of the legendary Futurist (anti-)opera first performed in St Petersburg, Russia in December 1913. Performances began today and continue until Sunday, March 20. Limited tickets are available for $25 per person from the website.

With so much to see and do and choose from, we asked Biennale of Sydney artistic director Dr Stephanie Rosenthal to share her top 10 must see artworks.

For more on the Biennale of Sydney, check out the website, 20bos.com.

Here are Rosenthal’s picks.

Lee Bull’s Willing to be Vulnerable

Lee Bull

Cockatoo Island
Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2016, is a new, site-specific work created for the Turbine Hall of the Industrial Precinct on Cockatoo Island, a central focus of the Embassy of the Real. The work is monumental in scale, filling the cathedral-sized, 1640-square-metre industrial space with forms that echo the shapes of the landscape, creating a network of memory that is emblematic of the dreams and aspirations of humanity.

Chiharu Shiota

Cockatoo Island
Conscious Sleep, 2009/2016, is a site-specific installation on Cockatoo Island that invites the viewer to step into another world; a surreal, dreamlike place not unlike the states of hypnogogia of hypnopomia that exist between wakefulness and sleep.

Detail from Bharti Kher’s Six Women

Bharti Kher

Cockatoo Island
Six Women, 2013–14, is a series of life-sized, sitting female sculptures, cast from real women in her New Delhi studio. Kher sees the body as a literal and metaphorical site for the construction of ideas around gender, mythology and narrative.

Korakrit Arunanondchai

Cockatoo Island
For the 20th Biennale, as part of the Embassy of the Real, Korakrit Arunanondchai presents Painting with history in a room filled with people with funny names 3, 2015. The video is presented within an immersive space, featuring a runway dressed in acid wash denim, a fabric the artist has incorporated into many of his works, and in his paintings, it often serves in place of canvas.

Nina Beier

Museum of Contemporary Art
Far from confining herself to a single medium, Nina Beier plays with materials, perceptions, images and means of communication. Working in and between a diverse range of media – sculpture, installation, assemblage and performance – she nevertheless encircles a number of recurring ideas.

Jamie North

Jamie North combines the waste products of industry and native Australian flora and plant species to create sculptural installations that explore the simultaneous concurrence and conflict between man-made architectural structures and the biological world.

Lee Mingwei’s Guernica in Sand.

Lee Mingwei

Guernica in Sand takes Pablo Picasso’s famous Guernica, 1937 – a powerful political painting created in response to the massacre of Basque civilians during the Spanish Civil War – as a reference and a point of departure. Having re-created the exact lines of Picasso’s piece with sand, during this one-off performance, the artist and his collaborators alter it.

Sheila Hicks

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Moving seamlessly between an array of techniques – wrapping, braiding, twigging, and stitching – at the heart of all Hicks’s poetic constructions is a deep affinity for colour, design, and texture. Her temporary, poetic installations respond to the spaces in which they are installed, while at the same time exploring the pervasive presence of thread, literally and metaphorically present in every facet of human existence, from birth until death.

One of Mella Jaarsma’s works

Mella Jaarsma

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Mella Jaarsma works across a variety of media, including sculpture, performance, textiles and video, but is perhaps best known for elaborate costumes made from an array of materials such as emblems, animal skins, horns and bark.

Daniel Boyd

In-between Spaces – Redfern Wall
Daniel Boyd has created a major outdoor installation in Redfern titled What Remains, 2016. Situated near The Block, the blackened wall is covered with a constellation of more than 12,000 small mirrored dots, reflecting the daily comings and goings of all things; people, traffic, animals, light, life itself.

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