Cover image of the review

Left to right: William Yang, selection from On tour after hours, 1976 (series); Forward to the Dreamtime performance. Sydney Opera House, 1976 (series); Workshop by Erik Mariko, Arthur Keibsu and Peter Kikaki, Glebe Studios, 1976 (series). Courtesy the artist and State Library New South Wales © William Yang. Installation view, 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, 2024, Chau Chak Wing Museum, University of Sydney. Photograph: David James.

The 24th Biennale of Sydney: Ten Thousand Suns


1 Jun 2024
Chau Chak Wing Museum, White Bay Power Station, UNSW Galleries 9 Mar - 10 Jun 2024

Cosmin Costinaş and Inti Guerrero’s rhetoric for Ten Thousand Suns initially reads like a conspiracy, which goes something like this: Capitalists and colonial powers want us to imagine the world is heading towards its inevitable demise! A politics of joy, on the other hand, is more open and hopeful; to borrow a term from theorist Eve Sedgwick, it’s reparative.

The joy–doom binary has the potential to be heavy-handed. In the Biennale, if a work doesn’t give joy, it is often juxtaposed with something that does (another artwork, an archive). Here, the supposed delightfulness of a positive feeling is always meant to be the more radical proposal. But things aren’t as simple or divisive as they first appear. In working through the joy–doom binary, Costinaş and Guerrero seek to offer historical depth to the dialectical relationship of these two affective forces. They historicise joy, giving it temporal layers and weaving it into the textures of trauma. One of the notable ways they do this is by invoking the archives of specific historical events.

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