Nothing sparks joy quite like discovering a new, hidden corner of the city. Add a spine-tingly sonic installation, and that joy doubles (at least).

That’s the kind of transporting experience on offer at the Fremantle Biennale. Taking place from Friday November 3 to Sunday November 19, the program is overflowing with art, music and dance in surprising locations, from cavernous, disused warehouses to retro yellow buses and the shores of the Indian Ocean.

“It was important for us to consider experiential works which respond directly to place and community,” co-founder and artistic director Tom Mùller said in a statement.

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Now in its fourth iteration, the 2023 biennale promises to be the biggest yet, with an impressive line-up of more than 70 events, 18 commissions and 16 world-firsts. These are our picks.

They’ve blazed a trail across Europe, collaborated with Paul McCartney and been praised by the New York Times, and now Paris-based studio Nonotak is bringing its immersive light and sound experience Satellites to Fremantle. The performance will breathe new life into the vacant Elders Woolstores with a dazzling, rhythmic, strobe-lit spectacle.
Every Thursday to Sunday from November 3–19 at Elders Woolstores, Fremantle.

When the Poems Do What They Do
It’s not often that a world-renowned poet and activist premieres their debut album in Perth, but that’s on the agenda for Fremantle Biennale as Aja Monet presents When the Poems Do What They Do in an Australian first. The Brooklyn-based artist will collaborate with some of the state’s leading experimental jazz musicians for an evening of soulful music, deft lyricism, and stories of hope and resistance.
Thursday November 18 at C Shed, Fremantle.

First Lights – Kooranup
The sequel to Moombaki, the mesmerising drone show at the 2021 Fremantle Biennale, First Lights – Kooranup shines new light on ancient First Nations stories with a series of three site-specific shows at stunning waterfront locations including Wadjemup/Rottnest Island, Walyalup/Bathers Bay and Dyoondalup/Attadale Reserve. Each night’s performance will feature 160 drones performing a different chapter in a series of interconnected stories by artists Yabini Kickett, Cass Lynch, Tyrown Waigana, and Ilona McGuire, guided by Whadjuk Noongar traditional owners.
Friday November 3 & Saturday November 4 at Walyalup/Bathers Beach, Friday November 10 & Saturday November 11 at Dyoondalup/Attadale Reserve, and Friday November 17 & Saturday November 18 at Wadjemup/Rottnest Island.

The Port’s Call
There’s nothing more quintessentially Freo than hearing the blast of a ship’s horn as it enters the port. The Port’s Call, an expansive sonic installation by Thomas Supple and Byron J Scullin, will announce the arrival and departure of ships with an ever-changing symphony of sound. The pair will use long-range acoustic technology to project compositions combining voice and electronics through the port in this poignant new soundscape.
Friday November 3–Monday November 12, Victoria Quay and Inner Harbour, Fremantle Port.

The Yellow Bus
Step onto a vintage yellow bus and journey to the heart of Yindjibarndi Country without ever leaving Freo. Developed by filmmaker Lorraine Coppin and artist Andrew Sunley Smith, The Yellow Bus is a roving celebration of Yindjibarndi culture featuring a multimedia exhibition, bush soundscapes, talks and film screenings.
Thursday November 9 to Monday November 12, 10am–6pm, at Er Pavilion (J Shed), Fremantle).