The 19th Biennale of Sydney closes after 81 days

Phantom_Douglas GordonThe 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire closed on Monday 9 June, after presenting the work of 92 artists from 31 countries free to the public over a three-month period.

Curated by Juliana Engberg, the exhibition was presented at various partner venues including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, Carriageworks, Cockatoo Island and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. This year, more than 623,000 visited the Biennale, including nearly 125,000 from overseas, the highest international visitation numbers recorded in the Biennale’s 41-year history.

Works and events were experienced at various locations throughout the city, including Henrik Håkansson’s epic, episodic film and orchestral performance work, THE END (2011 and 2014), which was presented at Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay over the past weekend.

In addition, audiences also experienced outdoor works by Nathan Coley on the Eastern Apron of Cockatoo Island, and the building exteriors of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, as well as numerous performance works in public spaces.

“We are delighted to have staged yet another ambitious and successful Biennale of Sydney – the first edition in our new autumn dates,” said Interim Chair, Mr Andrew Cameron. “The many stimulating works made for a wonderful show, with You Imagine What You Desire drawing thousands of visitors to Sydney.”

“More than 40 per cent of visits to the 19th Biennale were made by people living outside of Sydney, including 20 per cent of visitors who live internationally. Such results demonstrate the event’s international appeal and augment the already significant economic impact of the Biennale of Sydney.”

“We thank all of our venue and funding partners, artists, supporters and visitors and look forward to preparing another fantastic exhibition for the 20th Biennale in 2016.”

Of the 185 works included in the exhibition, 33 were commissioned especially for the 19th Biennale, including the world premiere of Tacita Dean’s Event for a Stage (2014), which was co-commissioned with Carriageworks. The first live performance work of Dean’s career, Event for a Stage was performed across four consecutive nights and featured actor Stephen Dillane.

“The Biennale has brought into reality those incubating ideas that lived in the imaginations of the artists, for the delight, intrigue and experience of the audience,” said Artistic Director, Juliana Engberg.

“On the island, in the streets, galleries and spaces around Sydney, creativity has been activated in the minds and hearts of those who wandered amidst our songs, sculptures and surreal offerings. It’s been a fabulous 12 weeks of magical art and audience curiosity.”

As part of the 19th Biennale Middle Program, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller unveiled a new work titled The City of Forking Paths (2014), a specially commissioned twilight video walk through The Rocks. As the inaugural City of Sydney legacy artwork, this enthralling 19th Biennale work is now a permanent part of the City of Sydney’s public art collection, ensuring future audiences will continue to enjoy the work for years to come.

The 20th Biennale of Sydney will take place in 2016. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Douglas Gordon, Phantom, 2011, stage, screen, a black Steinway piano, a burned Steinway piano and monitor, dimensions variable. Installation view of the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.