Monsters come to life across opening weekend of 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres

Stelarc, StickMan / miniStickMan, 2019, IOTA Institute, Halifax, Nova Scotia, installation. Courtesy the artist - photo by Steven AlyianThe 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres has assembled some of the most provocative Australian artists who will bring their monsters to life through live performances, interactive exhibitions, artist talks and keynote addresses held across the opening weekend from Friday 28 February at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Freemasons Lodge.

Marking the 30th anniversary of the nation’s longest running survey of Australian art, Monster Theatres invites artists to expose the monsters of our time. “Endurance performance, sound works, arenas for action, and listening take the stage in Monster Theatres,” says Curator Leigh Robb.

“This exhibition creates encounters with agents of artificial intelligence, the chance to choreograph robots, or to rest and breathe with bees. Agency and power structures will be shifted and redistributed, materialities mutate and morph.”

Seminal performance artist Mike Parr will perform his six-day durational Reading for the end of time at AGSA, testing the limits of voice, stamina and the human body. Pioneering performance Stelarc will perform on his 9-metre robot at AGSA, exploring the human body as a chimera of meat, metal and code in a world ruled by technology. Stelarc will also address audiences in a keynote presentation titled Contestable chimeras: excess, indifference & obsolescence.

Quandamooka artist Megan Cope responds to geological and industrial histories from the land through an interactive and sonic sculptural installation created using discarded mining machinery and rocks that sound the warning of climate change resembling the bush-stone curlew’s haunting call.

Environmentalist and artist Mike Bianco invites audiences to rest with 50,000 live bees in a participatory experience for the senses in Anthrocomb – a bee experience that explores the spectre of ecological collapse at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Soundscape artist Julian Day is concerned with reviving lost histories through sound, breath, and meditative spaces. His musical performance at the Freemasons Lodge, A Civic Space, featuring a Barossan brass band and choir, chronicles the story of the Hill & Son Grand Organ since its unveiling in 1877.

Digital ethnographer, socially engaged and widely published artist Professor Larissa Hjorth will deliver a keynote address titled Eco grief, creative practice and hope, reflecting on eco grief and the power of creative practice ethnography to transform how we live in the world at the Freemasons Lodge.

Following the opening weekend, Howl by APHIDS is a commemoration of controversy and the censored performed by women. A requiem that questions who gets to determine arts legitimacy, Howl is aptly scored by Mozart. The ticketed performance, presented in partnership with RCC and Vitalstatistix, takes audiences on a parade through and alongside the Gallery.

Colony by Garry Stewart & The Australian Dance Theatre is a free performance that configures the monster as the morphology and behaviour of the human, manifesting an image of symbiotic integration between multiple bodies into a cooperative whole.

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is a companion exhibition that parallels the themes of Monster Theatres as the historical echo of contemporary monsters that are created as answers to inexplicable events and misfortune. The exhibition invites audiences to experience and explore 600 years of monsters during the Adelaide Biennial.


The 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres will be presented from 28 February to 8 June. For more information, visit: www.agsa.sa.gov.au for details.

Image: Stelarc, StickMan / miniStickMan, 2019, IOTA Institute, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Installation, courtesy the artist – photo by Steven Alyian

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