Sydney Biennale crisis continues

Five artists issue statement of withdrawal

In an update to the story below, artists Libia Castro, Ólafur Ólafsson, Charlie Sofo, Gabrielle de Vietri and Ahmet Öğüt have now issued a statement of withdrawal from the 19th Sydney Biennale.

Australia's ABC News reported that a preview event for the biennale was cancelled over fears of protests about the sponsors of the upcoming 19th Biennale of Sydney, Transfield Holdings - a stakeholder in Transfield Services, being awarded the contract to run Australia's offshore immigration centre on Manus Island. The centre is part of Australia's controversial mandatory detention policy for asylum seekers, and has been criticised for its harsh conditions.

Last week, 35 artists called on the Sydney Biennale's board to terminate its relationship with Transfield Services, threatening to withdraw their work from this year's event, over concerns about being associated with the detention policy.

A statement from the Biennale's board has said that without the company - a founding partner of the Biennale - the arts event would not exist. Transfield's director, Luca Belgiorno Nettis, is also the Biennale chairman.