Biennale of Sydney announces Inaugural Benefit Auction

Biennale of Sydney

The Biennale of Sydney today announced, for the first time ever, art lovers from around the world will have the opportunity to bid online for selected artworks featured in the exhibition.

From Wednesday, 23 September 2020, the Biennale’s global community of passionate supporters will come together to directly assist the artists featured in the 22nd edition, titled NIRIN, and the Biennale of Sydney through an online auction.

Globally, the arts community has been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the artistic direction of acclaimed Indigenous Australian artist, Brook Andrew, this year’s Biennale, which is artist- and First Nations-led, showcases more than 700 artworks by 101 artists and collectives from around the world. The exhibition opened to unprecedented acclaim in March but, due to the global pandemic, closed to the public after only 10 days.

In June, after 10 weeks closed to the public, the NSW Government announced that museums and galleries were permitted to reopen. The free contemporary art exhibition presented across greater Sydney was previously scheduled to conclude on 8 June 2020, but the Biennale of Sydney rallied partner arts organisations to extend the exhibition period for NIRIN, incurring additional costs of $400,000.

Artists who are participating in the auction will generously donate 30% of all proceeds to the Biennale of Sydney – a not-for-profit organisation that has showcased the work of more than 1,900 artists from more than 100 countries for nearly 50 years – while 70% of proceeds will go directly to the artist.

This inaugural benefit auction will help ensure that the Biennale continues to commission new projects by some of the world’s most innovative artists and keep access to the best contemporary art free for all to enjoy.

Artists participating in the auction are Tony Albert, Colectivo Ayllu, Denilson Baniwa, Eric Bridgeman, Randy Lee Cutler, Jose Dávila, Karla Dickens, Demian DinéYazhi´ and R.I.S.E., Léuli Eshrāghi, Andre Eugene, Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre, Emily Karaka, Barbara McGrady, Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, John Miller, Jota Mombaça, Manuel Ocampo, Rosana Paulino, Laure Prouvost, Bhenji Ra, Anders Sunna, Tennant Creek Brio, Ahmed Umar and Pedro Wonaeamirri (with Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri).

Karla Dickens, who has chosen to donate all the proceeds from the sale of her work to the Biennale of Sydney as a gesture of solidarity with other artists, said: ‘NIRIN is an experience of human connection. Given the neglect of artists worldwide through such intense times, I see the opportunity to donate artwork to the Biennale auction as my duty; a duty of love to fellow artists, their work and their survival. Together we stand.’

Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney, said: ‘For many artists and organisations, the past six months have been rough, and a time of deep uncertainty. The Biennale of Sydney is grateful to our tremendous community who, by purchasing artworks through this auction, can keep a powerful piece of NIRIN for themselves once the exhibition is closed, and feel good about directly supporting participating artists and the Biennale.’

For business owners, under the small business tax allowance, the Australian Tax Office considers artworks as an investment and depreciating assets when bought by and for businesses. This makes purchasing art for your workplace under the Instant Asset Write-off scheme 100% tax deductible. Following the Budget Stimulus Package announced by the Prime Minister, there’s no limit to the number of artworks costing less than $150,000 to claim a tax deduction at the end of the financial year.

Bids for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN Benefit Auction will open via Galabid on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 at 9 am and close on Sunday, 27 September 2020 at 5 pm.

Images of artworks included in the auction can be found HERE.

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney is open with free admission at Carriageworks until 26 September, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Artspace until 27 September and Campbelltown Arts Centre until 4 October 2020. The exhibition is now closed at Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Powerhouse Museum.


The Biennale of Sydney is one of the leading international contemporary art events. It plays an indispensable role in Australia’s engagement with the world, and a meaningful role in the life of the nation. The Biennale presents the most dynamic contemporary art from around the globe in venues across Sydney (and soon to be in Melbourne) with exhibitions that ignite and surprise people, sparking dialogue, cultivating connections and inspiring action through meaningful, shared arts experiences. The Biennale of Sydney amplifies the voices of artists and tell the stories of our global communities, as they drive momentum for lasting cultural change. Established in 1973, it is the third oldest biennial in the world after Venice and São Paulo and the largest exhibition of its kind in Australia. The Biennale of Sydney has commissioned and presented exceptional works of art by more than 1,900 national and international artists from more than 100 countries. The Biennale of Sydney is committed to free access for all.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.