2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres



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To see the virtual tour of the Adelaide Biennial in Adelaide Botanic Garden, visit the Art Gallery of South Australia's website.


Adelaide Botanic Garden is excited to be welcoming five leading contemporary artists as they display their latest works of art throughout the garden as part of the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art.

The exhibition is the nation's longest-running survey of contemporary Australian art, held every two years since 1990. It is defined by experimentation and innovation, and is known for its role in accelerating the careers and profiles of Australian artists.

Each iteration of the Adelaide Biennial responds to a different theme or premise. In 2020, Monster Theatres invites artists to make visible the monsters of our time.

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 ‘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'.

Artists featuring in Adelaide Botanic Garden include:

Mike Bianco - Kiosk Lawn - POSTPONED until further notice

Mike Bianco (born 1981, San Francisco, U.S.A.) is a multidisciplinary artist based in Perth whose work focuses on the politics of ecology, with an interest in the kind of relationships that exist between humans, plants and wildlife. Bianco’s practice is conceptually driven; creating works in mediums that range from functional ceramics to performances, participatory workshops and sculptural interventions made in collaboration with living organisms. 

Michael Candy - Bicentennial Conservatory - POSTPONED until further notice

Michael Candy (b. 1990, South Africa) uses robotic technologies to mimic and interrogate the natural environment. His interest in cryptozoology and bio-mimesis has led to the invention and construction of new robotic hybrid forms. His animated, kinetic zoomorphic works employ light and robotics to create interspecies empathy and explore our relationship to technology and ecology. Candy's Biennial work will consist of two animatronic creations. One which will walk self guided around the gallery. The other will be suspended from the roof at MEB. 

Julia Robinson - Santos Museum of Economic Botany - POSTPONED until further notice

Julia Robinson (b.1981, Adelaide) is a sculpture and installation artist whose work draws upon European folklore, mythology and gothic ritual often focusing on the macabre or taboo elements of these histories. Robinson is fascinated by the narratives that humans have developed to comprehend the enduring inevitabilities of life, such as birth, death and sex. 

Yhonnie Scarce - Deadhouse

Yhonnie Scarce (b.1973, Woomera, South Australia) is a Kokatha and Nukunu artist, living and working in Adelaide and Melbourne. Scarce is influenced by the qualities of glass as a medium, particularly its dual nature as both malleable and resilient. Scarce uses her work to address the legacies of colonisation in South Australia including genocide, racism, environmental degradation and inter-generational trauma. Scarce's Biennial work will feature glass sculptures housed within the Botanic Gardens morgue (Dead house) at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.

Mark Valenzuela - Bicentennial Conservatory and Palm House - POSTPONED until further notice

Mark Valenzuela (b. 1980, Pagadian, Philippines) is an artist who lives in Adelaide and whose work interrogates Filipino and Australian cultural and political systems. Valenzuela employs ceramics, video and painting and drawing techniques to reconfigure diverse historical and contemporary references in multifaceted installations. He often examines cultural narratives and identity, using his work as a vehicle to create alternative mythologies.


The Art Gallery of South Australia will exhibit work from many artists, along with a program of curated events.

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.


Photo: Julia Robinson, Australia, 1981, Beatrice, 2019–20, Adelaide, silk, thread, felt, steel, brass, gold-plated copper, foam, cardboard, pins, fixings;

© Julia Robinson/Hugo Michell Gallery.