Art on a Finnish island and Manifesta in Marseille: our guide to the brightest biennials and festivals in 2020

Prospect.5 commemorates the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its all change as Liverpool Biennial gets a new director

The island of Vallisaari, a former military base, will host the inaugural Helsinki Biennial, which will focus on conservation © Matti Pyykkö

The island of Vallisaari, a former military base, will host the inaugural Helsinki Biennial, which will focus on conservation © Matti Pyykkö

Helsinki Biennial: The Same Sea

Vallisaari, Helsinki, Finland, 12 June-27 September

The location of the inaugural Helsinki Biennial is itself a talking point: Vallisaari is one of more than 300 islands off the coast of Helsinki that was once a military base but is now primarily a conservation area. Some of the works in the biennial, inspired by the island’s military history, will be displayed in gunpowder cellars and empty residential buildings. “The idea and site of each work has been evaluated from the point of view of nature conservation and historic preservation,” say the curators Pirkko Siitari and Taru Tappola. Participating artists include Katharina Grosse, Alicja Kwade and the Finnish-born Marja Kanervo and Tuomas Laitinen.

Marigny Opera House in New Orleans Photo: Pompo Bresciani. Courtesy of Marigny Opera House.

Prospect.5: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow

Various venues, New Orleans, US, 24 October-24 January 2021

The fifth edition of Prospect.5 will commemorate the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the natural disaster that devastated New Orleans in 2005. “History—its weight and complexity—is very much on our minds as we think about Prospect.5,” says the US biennial’s executive director, Nick Stillman. The organisers, including co-artistic director Diana Nawi, say the focus will be on “resistance and liberation”. The obtuse title of the biennial is taken from New Orleans-born jazz musician Christian Scott’s 2010 album. The activist Kimberly Drew and the film-maker Jason Fitzroy Jeffers form part of a collective that will organise associated events across the city throughout the year.

Manifesta will take place in the French city of Marseille this year © Ange-Lorente Service Presse Ville de Marseille

Manifesta 13: Traits d’union.s

Various venues, Marseille, France, 7 June-1 November

The nomadic European biennial is taking place in France for the first time, spread across various venues in Marseille. At a time when human, social and environmental issues become ever more complex, Manifesta 13 looks at Marseille as a city marked by endless transitions, a continuous site of arrivals and departures, according to a press statement from the curators Katerina Chuchalina, Stefan Kalmár, Marina Otero Verzier and Alya Sebti.

Rashid Johnson, Antoine’s Organ (2016), © Hauser & Wirth, NY. Martin Parsekian

Liverpool Biennial: The Stomach and the Port

Various venues, Liverpool, UK, 11 July-25 October

A new team takes the reins for the 11th edition of the UK’s largest contemporary art biennial, with Turkish-born Fatos Ustek and Manuela Moscoso from Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo serving as director and curator respectively. Works by artists including Rashid Johnson, Judy Chicago, Zineb Sedira, Neo Muyanga, Invernomuto and Camille Henrot are due to be shown in prominent public spaces and unused buildings throughout the city.

Androgynous Egg (2017) performance by Georgina Starr, who will be taking part in Glasgow International © Georgina Starr & Frieze Projects; Photo: Lewis Roland

Other major biennials and triennials

2nd Lahore Biennale

• Various venues, Lahore, Pakistan, 26 January-29 February

Desert X AlUla

• AlUla, Saudi Arabia, 31 January-7 March

5th Dhaka Art Summit

• Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 7-15 February

22nd Biennale of Sydney

• Various venues, Sydney, Australia, 14 March-8 June

12th Mercosul Biennial

• Various venues, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 9 April-5 July

Glasgow International

• Various venues, Glasgow, Scotland, 24 April-10 May

2nd Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art

• Various venues, Riga, Latvia, 16 May-11 October

17th Venice International Architecture Exhibition

• Giardini and Arsenale, Venice, Italy, 23 May-29 November

9th Bucharest Biennial

• Various venues, Bucharest, Romania, 28 May-4 July

Made in L.A. 2020

• Hammer Museum and The Huntington, Los Angeles, US, 7 June-30 August

11th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art

• Various venues, Berlin, Germany, 13 June-13 September

7th Yokohama Triennale

• Various venues, Yokohama, Japan, 3 July-11 October

10th Busan Biennale

• Various venues, Busan, South Korea, Opening September

39th Eva International

• Various venues, Limerick, Ireland, 4 September-15 November

13th Gwangju Biennale

• Various venues, Gwangju, South Korea, 4 September-29 November

34th Bienal de São Paulo

• Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo, São Paulo, Brazil, 5 September-6 December

5th Folkestone Triennial

• Various venues, Folkestone, UK, 5 September-8 November

London Design Biennale

• Somerset House, London, UK, 8-27 September

International Biennale of Casablanca

• Various venues, Casablanca, Morocco, 24 September-1 November

2nd Bangkok Art Biennale

• Various venues, Bangkok, Thailand, 10 October-21 February 2021

12th Taipei Biennial

• Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, Taiwan, 24 October-28 February 2021

5th Kochi-Muziris Biennale

• Various venues, Kochi, India, Opens 12 December


We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. Read our Cookie Policy for more information.