Curated by Charles Merewether, the 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006) featured 85 artists from 44 countries in 16 venues dotted around the city.
In keeping with the theme of Zones of Contact, all of the artworks dealt with ideas and events shaping our lives today as well as our past and future.
The 15th Biennale broke all previous Biennale attendance records, with more than 316,000 people visiting the exhibition. For Tehmi Sukhla, the Biennale Marketing Coordinator at the time, two particular works stood out:
‘Artworks like Antony Gormley’s Asian Field capture the attention and imagination of media and visitors alike. This work was visually spectacular occupying the entire top floor of Pier 2/3 and the photographs of it didn’t prepare you for viewing it in person. A sea of uncountable figures appeared to completely fill the vast space. Each figure had its own personality imparted by its maker and everywhere you looked you discovered something new.
Adults, children, art lovers and art novices all related to and enjoyed this work. Many visitors came back to spend more time with the work and many were eager to talk to staff and volunteers about it. Asian Field was so overwhelming that it was near impossible not to be moved by it.’
‘The moment that has stayed most strongly with me was the performance by Djambawa Marawili featuring ceremonial dancers from Madarrpa and affiliated clans. Djambawa Marawili’s work at the end of Pier 2/3 featured sand sculpture and intricate bark paintings. The performance took place on the opening day of the 15th Biennale. I was not prepared for the power of the performance, which featured music, song, dance and words. The performance ignited all my senses and echoed through my entire body. When Djambawa Marawili spoke, I was completely overwhelmed and openly wept, as did many of the visitors who also had the privilege to view this performance.’
Images from 15th Biennale of Sydney (2006)