Biennale of Sydney: 5 Reasons to Head Down Under For It

19th Biennale Of Sydney - Media Preview
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Starting March 21, more than 90 artists from 30 countries will transform Australia's largest city for the Biennale of Sydney, Asia-Pacific's largest contemporary arts event. Sure, it's a long haul to reach the land down under, but the Biennale of Sydney is spectacular enough to make the trip. And as it runs until June 9, you've got plenty of time to book tickets.

Here are five reasons why you should.

1.It's a rare Biennale that's free

The Istanbul Biennale is 20TL. In Venice, you get to see some exhibits for free, but others charge. In Sydney? Leave that wallet at home. Your money is no good at the Biennale of Sydney. Well, unless you want to buy a meat pie or lamington or didgeridoo get the idea.

2.One of the venues is a former penal colony

Cockatoo Island, a short ferry ride from Sydney Harbour, has had many lives, including as a former penal colony, an industrial school for girls and a city jail. For the Biennale of Sydney, it got made over again. Exhibits include a surreal replica of a Danish village where the buildings have human features (think rooftops as hair, doors for mouths), an installation where visitors use old gym machines and a projection of a giant Icelandic waterfall accompanied by a roaring soundtrack.

3.You can weigh in on the eternal Sydney versus Melbourne debate

Residents of Australia's two most populous cities have been fighting over which one is best since the country was colonized (that's why Canberra, the capital, is situated halfway between them like an exiled orphan). So who is right? The only one way to find out is to visit.

4. If a tree falls in an art museum, does it make a sound?

The prestigious Art Gallery of NSW is being turned into a giant forest where Chinese artist Yingmei Duan will hand out written wishes to visitors. According to the website, "Usually, Duan hides at the extremity of this magical place, but occasionally she will creep forward through the trees to investigate a visitor and perhaps offer them a secret note of instruction. The words are based on thoughts, observations and ideas that Duan formulates situationally: 'Go to the church and ask them why religion is not free' or 'Watch the sky tonight and make a wish', are suggestions that can, yet need not, be acted upon, but serve to inspire thought in their recipient."

5.It's warm

Okay, if you live in a balmy state like California, Florida or Hawaii stop reading right now (and stop bragging too). But for those of pus who have slushed our way through the frigid, snowy winter of 2013-2014, Australia should sound like a kangaroo-loving paradise right about now. So use the money you'll save on not having to pay for admission to pick up a tube or two of sunscreen.

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