Biennale of Sydney at Carriageworks Launch

(7pm 29 June 2012, Carriageworks)

Thank you Marah Braye, CEO, Biennale of Sydney, and good evening, everyone. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who call our city home.

Welcome especially to the artist Ann Veronica Janssens and to the artistic directors of the 2012 Biennale, Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster.

This 18th Biennale is taking place as usual at the Art Gallery of NSW, the MCA, Piers 2/3 at Walsh bay and at Cockatoo Island. And this year, for the first time, Carriageworks has joined as a presenting partner.

It is a superb, evocative space - one which I hope has inspired the artists - and it's wonderful to see it used so well. It's also exciting to see that the Biennale is extending its reach beyond the harbour foreshores to this once-neglected part of our City.

Part of the Biennale's purpose is to actively reach out to people and to develop the audience for contemporary art. By taking art beyond the confines of the galleries, it fulfils that aim, attracting new audiences and opening them to the myriad possibilities of art.

Art is one way we connect - with ideas, with each other, and with our world - and this year's theme - All our relations - suggests those connections in all their complexity.

It is wonderful to have the time and the space during the three months of the Biennale to explore them. It is also to know that almost half of the artists involved this year have created new works specifically for the Biennale - and they include many substantial collaborations.

A huge event such as this also demands collaboration, it requires many hands, and many supporters to make it work, and it should leave a lasting legacy.

On behalf of the City of Sydney, I thank all those organisations - public and private - who make it possible. Tonight, I also thank Lisa Havilah and Carriageworks for their extending the reach of the 2012 Biennale.

It reflects Sydney's cultural dynamism, its lively and eclectic arts scene and its willingness to look out to the world, and to welcome the world in.

As it has evolved over the years since 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has become a pivotal event in the creative life - not only of Sydney, but of the whole of Australia.

It reminds us of all that art can do, and of all the reasons that art matters.

The City of Sydney is proud to join with the Australian and NSW Governments in support of the Biennale.

We are grateful to the many foreign governments who consistently contribute to this event, as well as to Transfield and the many other companies and individuals whose generosity makes it possible.

I am very pleased to launch the Biennale at Carriageworks and introduce Catherine de Zegher, Co-Artistic Director of the 18th Biennale of Sydney.

Thank you.