The country’s longest-standing survey of contemporary Australian Art.

In 2020, the Adelaide Biennial celebrates a 30-year milestone as the nation’s longest-running curated survey of contemporary Australian art. Since 1990, the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art has created career-defining opportunities for more than 350 artists and presented to close to one million visitors .

Titled Monster Theatres, the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art invites artists to make visible the monsters of our time. Curator Leigh Robb says ‘Monsters ask us to interrogate our relationships with each other, the environment and technology. They force us to question our empathy towards difference across race, gender, sexuality and spirituality'.

The term ‘monster’ comes from Latin monere, to warn, and monstrare, to show or make visible. The exhibition title hints at a double narrative which also resonates through the multiple meanings of ‘theatre’. An operating theatre is a room in which to examine, dissect as well as heal; it is also a theatre of war, a site of conflict where clashes between nations and ideologies play out all too frequently, but a theatre is also an arena – an active social space.

Curator Leigh Robb says 'Monster Theatres proposes an arena of speculation, a circus of the unorthodox and the absurd, a shadow play between truth and fiction. The title is inspired by a group of provocative Australian artists. Their urgent works of art are warnings made manifest. These theatres are theirs.’


Leigh Robb, Curator of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of South Australia


Abdul Abdullah, APHIDS, Mike Bianco, Polly Borland, Michael Candy, Megan Cope, Erin Coates and Anna Nazzari, Julian Day, Karla Dickens, Mikala Dwyer, Brent Harris, Aldo Iacobelli, Pierre Mukeba, David Noonan, Mike Parr, Julia Robinson, Yhonnie Scarce, Stelarc, Garry Stewart and Australian Dance Theatre, Kynan Tan, Mark Valenzuela, Willoh S. Weiland and Judith Wright

Presented in association with the Adelaide Festival, and with generous support received from the Art Gallery of South Australia Biennial Ambassadors Program and Principal Donor The Balnaves Foundation.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.

Principal Donor
  • The Balnaves Foundation
Vernissage Weekend
28 Feb - 1 Mar 2020

photo: Nathaniel Mason.

Event Highlights
29 Feb - 8 Jun 2020

photo: Andre Castellucci.

Art Gallery of South Australia

North Terrace, Adelaide

Grand Lodge Of Freemasons SA & NT

North Terrace, Adelaide

Adelaide Botanic Garden

Adelaide Botanic Gardens

North Terrace, Adelaide

Installation view: 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds featuring works by Tamara Dean, Museum of Economic Botany, Adelaide Botanic Gardens, Adelaide.

Museum of Economic Botany

Adelaide Botanic Garden, North Terrace, Adelaide

Abdul Abdullah, Australia, born 1986, Understudy, 2019; Courtesy the artist and Yavuz Gallery.

Abdul Abdullah

performance still: APHIDS, Australia, est. 1994, Howl (Jason Wing, Australia was Stolen by Armed Robbery), 2018, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth; © the artists/APHIDS, photo: Bryony Jackson.

Mike Bianco

Polly Borland, Australia, born 1959, MORPH 4, 2018, Los Angeles, archival pigment print, 200.0 x 162.5 cm: Courtesy the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne. © Polly Borland.

Polly Borland

detail: Michael Candy, South Africa, born 1990, Big Dipper, 2014/19, A Forest, Dark Mofo, Hobart, installation; Courtesy Dark Mofo and Michael Bugelli Gallery, photo: Remi Chauvin.

Michael Candy

still: Erin Coates, Australia, born 1977, Anna Nazzari, Australia, born 1976, Dark Water, 2019, Perth, 2K video with stereo sound, 15 mins; Courtesy the artists, photo: Erin Coates.

Erin Coates and Anna Nazzari

photo: Megan Cope, Quandamooka people, South East Queensland, born 1982, Brisbane, Untitled (Old Kahibah), 2018, Sydney Contemporary, maps on vinyl, sound extraction and abstraction, sourced rocks and hollowed timber, violin, cello and bass strings; © Megan Cope/This Is No Fantasy, Melbourne, photo: Jacquie Manning..

Megan Cope

Julian Day, Australia, born 1975, A Civic Space, 2019, Barossa Regional Gallery, performance, 40 mins; Courtesy the artist and Regional Development Australia Barossa Gawler Light & Adelaide Plains Tanunda, South Australia. A Civic Space was assisted through generous support from Regional Development Australia Barossa Gawler Light & Adelaide Plains, the Barossa Council and Country Arts SA, photo: Sam Roberts.

Julian Day

Karla Dickens, Australia, born 1967, A Dickensian Country Show: Truths on the ghost train, 2019, Lismore, New South Wales, mixed media; © Karla Dickens/Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane, photo: Mick Richards.

Karla Dickens

installation detail: Mikala Dwyer, Australia, born 1959, x Square Cloud Compound, 2015/2016, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Courtesy the artist, Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, photo: Felicity Jenkins.

Mikala Dwyer

Brent Harris, born 1956, Grotesquerie, 2001-08, Melbourne, oil on linen, diptych, 191.0 x 127.0 cm (each panel); Gift of the Art Gallery of South Australia Contemporary Collectors 2008, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Brent Harris.

Brent Harris

Aldo Iacobelli, Italy, born 1950, Bicycle riders, 2007, Adelaide, fired terracotta, olive branches, metal wire, 15.0 x 33.0 x 10.0 cm; Courtesy the artist, photo: Sam Noonan.

Aldo Iacobelli

Pierre Mukeba, Democratic Republic of Congo, born 1995, Barbarity, 2018, Adelaide, brush pen and fabric appliqué on cotton, 250.0 x 250.0 cm; Courtesy the artist and GAGPROJECTS | Greenaway Art Gallery.

Pierre Mukeba

still: David Noonan, Australia, born 1969, A Dark & Quiet Place, 2017, London, High Definition Video, 28 mins; Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne and Modern Art, London.

David Noonan

still: Mike Parr, Australia, born 1945, The Emetics [Primary Vomit] I am Sick of Art [Red, Yellow & Blue], 1977, Watters Gallery, Darlinghurst, Sydney, 16mm film, duration; Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, photo: Misha Nussinov.

Mike Parr

photo: detail: Julia Robinson, Australia, born 1981, Sweet Belly, 2019, Adelaide, gourd, silk, thread, pins, brass, gold plating, steel, mixed media, 130.0 x 100.0 x 50.0; Courtesy the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, photo: Sam Roberts..

Julia Robinson

Yhonnie Scarce, Kokatha/Nukunu people, South Australia, born 1973, Woomera, South Australia, Burial ground, 2011, Melbourne, glass, perspex, 33.0 x 133.0 x 38.0 cm (variable), 97.0 x 206.0 x 81.0 cm (plinth); Gift of the Art Gallery of South Australia Foundation 2012, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, © Yhonnie Scarce/THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery, Melbourne.

Yhonnie Scarce

detail: Stelarc, Australia, born 1946, StickMan / miniStickMan, 2019, IOTA Institute, Halifax, Nova Scotia, installation; Courtesy the artist, photo: Steven Alyian.


Garry Stewart and Australian Dance Theatre, Australia, founded 1962, Supernature, 2019, performance, Courtesy Australian Dance Theatre, Adelaide, photo: Sam Roberts.

Garry Stewart and Australian Dance Theatre

detail: Kynan Tan, Australia, born 1988, Automated Logistics Simulation (Permutations), 2018, Sydney, computer-generated simulation, 2 channel video and sound, dimensions variable; Courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery.

Kynan Tan

detail: Mark Valenzuela, Philippines, born 1980, New Folk Heroes, 2016, Adelaide, ceramic, concrete, timber, found objects, dimensions variable; Courtesy the artist, photo: James Field, courtesy of Adelaide Central School of Art.

Mark Valenzuela

photo: performance still: Willoh S. Weiland, Belize, born 1980, Lick Lick Blink, 2019, The National 2019: New Australian Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Lick Lick Blink was commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, photo: Daniel Boud..

Willoh S. Weiland

Judith Wright, Australia, born 1945, Sightlines (3), 2019, Brisbane, synthetic polymer paint on Japanese paper, 100.0 x 100.0 cm; Courtesy the artist and Sophie Gannon Gallery, photo: Carl Warner.

Judith Wright