Biennale of Sydney announces exhibition sites and public program for rivus (2022)

The-Biennale-of-Sydney’s-public-program-participants-photo-by-Daniel-BoudThe Biennale of Sydney has announced exhibition sites for the 23rd edition, titled rivus, and an expansive series of events and experiences, titled The Waterhouse, including the exciting return of school programs.

From 12 March to 13 June 2022, the Biennale of Sydney will present participant artworks and projects at: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Barangaroo including The Cutaway, Circular Quay, Information + Cultural Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Art School in partnership with Artspace, The Rocks and Walsh Bay Arts Precinct including Pier 2/3.

The Curatorium leading the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (local curators Paschal Daantos Berry, Anna Davis, Hannah Donnelly and Talia Linz with international Artistic Director José Roca) encourage visitors to flow between locations on a course that is inclusive and accessible by walking, biking, wheelchair and other mobility devices, and via public transport.

The first wave of experiences announced for the 3-month long exhibition, which reflects on rivers and other bodies of water and the ecologies they sustain, echoes this free-flowing movement of people and exchange of ideas.

Anchored at The Cutaway at Barangaroo, the public program, titled The Waterhouse, conceived by Lleah Smith, Curator of Programs and Learning, in conversation with the Curatorium, will activate the city through daily programming for all ages and abilities.

The first release of events and experiences include:

Space In-Between – a series of self-guided walks and site-specific exercises created by r?vus participants and extended national and international thinkers, researchers and makers – including Julie Gough (Australia), Pablo Helguera (Mexico/USA), Astrida Neminas (Canada), José Roca (Colombia), Hanna Tuulikki (Scotland) and Tais Rose Wae (Australia).

Space In Between connects the Biennale of Sydney locations from National Art School, Museum of Contemporary Art, Pier 2/3 Walsh Bay Arts Precinct and The Cutaway at Barangaroo, through mindful walking inviting audiences to pay attention to the surrounding landscape and experience the city with fresh perspectives. The walks series is inclusive and fully accessible for wheelchair users and users of other mobility devices.

Led by rivus participants, Building Blocks is an opportunity for audiences to engage deeply with the working methods of practitioners that blend educational and art making processes including Arts for the Commons (Ecuador/Italy), Cave Urban (Australia), Paula de Solminihac (Chile), Clare Milledge (Australia) and Diana Scherer (Germany/The Netherlands). The 3-hour experience includes a communal meal where participants can reflect on water stories and collective processes, together.

Gesture invites audiences to experience the exhibition beyond words and through the body. Deaf artists Angie Goto and Sue Jo Wright will guide audiences on a 90-minute experience through the exhibition expressing with only their bodies to draw attention to our sensory experiences of artworks, space and each other.

River Conversations is a two-day symposium taking place on land and water is curated in collaboration with Erin O’Donnell, a water law and policy specialist, and Alessandro Pelizzon, a legal anthropologist.

Led by local and international First Nations voices including Badger Bates, D Harding, Justice Md Ashraful Kamal, Bradley Moggridge, Dr Anne Poelina and Leanne Tobin, the symposium will travel down the Parramatta River on Day One and land in The Waterhouse, Barangaroo, on Day Two.

Pre-Biennale series Water Lessons, which was postponed due to stay-at-home orders in New South Wales, will resume in December and continue on the third Sunday of every month to May 2022.

Water Lessons investigates water through the lens of muse, material and resource facilitated by water specialists such as Hani Abdile, Indigigrow, Parliament on King and The Weathering Collective. Audiences are invited to unpack the qualities, powers, threats and possibilities of water, together.

A variety of experiences for schools is also available, including, for example: School Tours will be offered Monday to Friday for the duration of the exhibition. Schools can book a specialised Educator-Led Experience or a Self-Guided Experience with learning resources available online to ensure the fullest experience of rivus.

H20 Embassy(s) is a specialised cross-curricular primary and secondary schools’ program where students will contribute to the Embassy of the North Sea’s advocacy for water bodies and all the organisms that live within marine environments.

Students will learn about different qualities and characteristics of four water personalities; rivers, oceans, wetlands and estuaries and create a small individual flag as a marker of their advocacy which will be stitched together to form large flags displayed at The Waterhouse.

“This program gives agency. It empowers audiences to recognise that their story and their journey has meaning and value,” said Lleah Smith, Curator, Programs and Learning at the Biennale of Sydney.

“It supports the sharing of space and ideas, inspiring communities to collectively consider a different kind of future. It is a program grounded in equity, enabling both active and quiet participation through diverse encounters,” said Smith.

“The activations and experiences offered through The Waterhouse program extend upon the foundational principle of rivus – build upon what’s already there – through active and participatory work that acknowledges that we are all connected through water, by water, in water,” said The Curatorium.

“As NSW re-opens its doors to the world, it’s time to welcome the Biennale of Sydney back!” said NSW Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin. “The NSW Government is a proud supporter of the Biennale, where audiences can celebrate all the Festival has to offer with free and exciting events and exhibitions.”

Ticketed events and experiences are now on sale at: When making a ticket purchase, visitors have the opportunity to double their impact with a ‘round up donation’. Creative Partnerships Australia will match every donation dollar for dollar, thanks to their Plus1 initiative. Donations over $2 are tax deductible.

The 23rd Biennale of Sydney runs 12 March to 13 June 2022. Exhibition entry is – as always – free. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: The Biennale of Sydney’s public program provides pathways into projects by participants including (from left) Cave Urban (Mercurio Alvarado, Sophie Lanigan, Juan Pablo Pinto and Jed Long), David Haines and Joyce Hinterding and Clare Milledge, pictured with Lleah Smith (centre), Curator of Programs and Learning, at The Cutaway, Barangaroo – photo by Daniel Boud