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Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Once Removed, 2019 (video still). Commissioned by Sharjah Biennial 14. Courtesy the artist

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

  • Main exhibition: Free
  • Ticketed events: Prices vary



  • Saturday 14 March to Monday 8 June
  • Main Exhibition: 10am to 5pm daily
  • Free and ticketed events: times vary

Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour, NSW


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Cockatoo Island is being reimagined as an immersive contemporary art space for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.

Between 14 March and 8 June, visitors to the island are invited to engage with a series of public artworks – and participate in free and ticketed events – anchored in this year’s theme: NIRIN.

NIRIN, meaning ‘edge’ in the language of the Wiradjuri People of western NSW, is a First Nations-led initiative as well as a forum for celebrated artists to reflect on the world today, challenge dominant narratives and propose exciting pathways for healing, founded in futurism.

The Biennale of Sydney has showcased the works of nearly 1800 local and international artists since its inception in 1973. Cockatoo Island has been one of the official venues for the leading contemporary arts event since 2008. This year, the artistic director for Biennale of Sydney is acclaimed Indigenous Australian artist, Brook Andrew.

Lisa Reihana, In Pursuit of Venus [infected], 2015–17, (detail) ultra HD video, colour, 7.1 sound, 64 mins, Courtesy the artist and New Zealand at Venice

Meet the artists

More than 30 artists and collectives will converge at Cockatoo Island to share their ideas, experiences and perspectives...

Some of the featured artists at Cockatoo Island include Tony Albert (Australia), Ibrahim Mahama (Ghana), Lawrence Abu Hamdan (Beirut), Anna Boghiguian (Egypt), Gina Athena Ulyssee (Haiti), Lisa Reihana (New Zealand),  Nicholas Galanin (Alaska) and Tennat Creek Brio (Australia, pictured here). 

650X550 Tennant Crek Brio 01


NIRIN WIR, from the words for ‘edge’ and ‘Sky’ in the Wiradjuri language, is a series of free and ticketed events...

Highlights of NIRIN WIR at Cockatoo Island include day two of aabaakwad 2020: NIRIN (15 March) – a four-day, Indigenous-led arts conference featuring a Q&A with Brook Andrew; the 4ESydney HipHop Festival (27 to 29 March); and Bankstown Poetry Slam (3 to 5 April) – three electrifying nights of spoken word featuring Bankstown’s iconic poetry slam.

Image credit: Nardean performing live at the 4ESydney Festival, 2018. Photograph: Zach Janus

3 Photo By Zach Janusz 650X550
Biennale Staycation Deal
Save up to 20% on accommodation at Cockatoo Island when you stay with us during the Biennale of Sydney. Terms and conditions apply.
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The regular ferries operating to Cockatoo Island will be supplemented by a free transport service...

Every Monday to Friday, Rosman Cruises will transport students from Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island free of charge aboard NIRIN HAIVETA. In addition, NIRIN HAIVETA will transport people from Sydney Olympic Park Wharf to Cockatoo Island for free every Saturday (bookings essential).

Launched in 1947, NIRIN HAIVETA (previously known as Radar) is the ‘mother’ of the Rosman fleet. She was in continuous service for more than 60 years and has undergone a complete refurbishment for NIRIN, resulting in a vessel that celebrates Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian women’s mark-making.

Image: NIRIN HAIVETA (aka Radar) undergoing refurbishments for Biennale. 


Helpful links

Looking to visit or stay at Cockatoo Island during Biennale? Here are some useful links...