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Two women's hands meet on a sheet of glass which divides them
Image Credit: Cherine Fahd - A Proxy for a Thousand Eyes (2020) by Daniel Boud

Contemporary Art

Igniting imaginations

Contemporary art at the Sydney Opera House is guided by the promise that visual artists can challenge us to experience the world anew. With an emphasis on commissioning and exhibiting the artists of today, the twentieth century architectural icon is situated as a catalyst for visual artists to stage open-ended exhibitions, installations and projects that offer insights into the most pressing cultural, political and social questions of our society.

Transcending geographical boundaries, the contemporary art projects exhibited at the Opera House encapsulate the diversity of artistic expression, from temporal pursuits such as performance, sound and choreography, to digital art forms such as film, video and moving image, along with new art forms yet to be developed or fully understood. Central to these works is the encouragement of the deep understanding and enjoyment of art by our local, national and international audiences, both virtually and at the Opera House.

Through these meaningful encounters with artists and ideas of our time, the Opera House contributes to the global dialogue of contemporary art, weaving together the established and experimental, the past and present, the physical and the intangible - reflecting the promise that contemporary art, in illuminating our lives, can build a more just world. 

Contemporary Art

Giant Bonsai – A photographic project by Garry Trinh

Artist Garry Trinh’s Giant Bonsai (2011 -) is an ongoing photographic project, digitally presented for Antidote, that celebrates the incidental charms of creative urban vegetation pruning in Sydney.

A black window that displays an up-close image of an insect.
Image Credit: Caroline Garcia, Force of a .22 Calibre Bullet [still] (2021), digital video, colour, sound, 7:55.Commissioned by The Sydney Opera House for Returning with support from The Japan Foundation, Sydney


Returning is a serial digital exhibition that commissions several artist perspectives from Australia and Asia to accrue, gather and snowball the mood swings of the past year, transforming our private and societal reorientations into works that ring fresh and clear. While much of the imagery is drawn from the past twelve months, the artists have created more than mere artefacts of the pandemic. Their enduring works beat with a rhetorical urgency. Conceived as online moving image works, video is used as a tool to navigate forward. They have taken to individual forms of political activism and social commentary, creating works that impel us to view the recent past differently, while asking what the future might portend. 

Through poetic metaphors and expressive soundtracks, graveness and humour, focused videography and experimental moving image, the artists demonstrate that art is not only a dream or a vision, but can contain a skeleton architecture for our lives. By leaning, listening, watching and adjusting ourselves to the new rhythms of the unknown, these screen-based works offer us glimmers of how to find our way again and make sense of our changing surroundings as we return  - return to the world, return to each other and most importantly, return to ourselves.

Accompanying each artwork are behind the scenes video interviews as well as past works by the artists. A series of personal essays by a selection of writers unravelling each artists’ response will be released later this year. Returning: Chapter 1 is co-presented with The Japan Foundation, Sydney.


Yu Araki (Japan)
Caroline Garcia (Australia)
Cherine Fahd (Australia)
Koki Tanaka (Japan)

Micheal Do, Curator Contemporary Art

Micheal Do is a curator, programmer and writer working across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. His curatorial focus lies in developing thematic and immersive exhibitions that extrapolate research and artistic practices into contemporary contexts. He is curator, contemporary art at the Sydney Opera House, Australia and curator of Projects at Auckland Art Fair, New Zealand.

His exhibition ‘Soft Core’, exploring soft and inflatable sculptures developed for Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Sydney, recently concluded its tour of twelve regional and rural galleries throughout New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland from 2016 – 2019. Micheal  curated ‘Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu’ (2017) and ‘The Invisible Hand’ (2019) for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and among other exhibitions curated ‘5X5: The Artist and The Patron’ (2018), a survey of 5 artist/collector relationships for Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest and ‘A Proxy for a Thousand Eyes’ (2020) for Sydney Opera House.

He was the 2018 recipient of The Freedman Foundation’s Travelling Scholarship for Curators and the recipient Museums and Galleries NSW Artist and Curator Residency Grant in 2016. His writing appears in publications including 4A Papers; Art Collector Australia; Art Monthly, Australasia; Art Review Asia, Artist Profile Magazine, S+S Magazine, VAULT Magazine, and 10 Magazine, along with artists’ catalogues.

Sydney Opera House’s Curator Contemporary Art is enabled by Cathy & Andrew Cameron AM.

A man in a suit stands in a stairwell that is lit red whilst holding the stair rail
Credit: Daniel Boud

Be a part of contemporary art at the Opera House.

Contemporary art is at the heart of the Opera House, and has been since our 1973 opening.

Each year, our donors help to commission new, exciting art projects at the Opera House, like the ones featured on this page.

Get involved now. Contact our Philanthropy team on 02 9250 7077 or