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The 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN

This year marks the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. Titled, ‘NIRIN,’ the inaugural event transforms the most iconic venues across the city into a destination of art, culture and conversation.

Here at Indesign, we acknowledge that the world is facing a pandemic that hails itself bigger than all of us combined. We respect the precautionary measures that businesses are facing throughout every industry in putting in their best efforts to improve our current landscape. With most design events being cancelled throughout the world, The 22nd Biennale of Sydney has made the decision to continue its celebration of the arts community here in Australia.

Hailed as ‘the biggest event on Sydney’s arts calendar’ by the Lonely Planet, the Biennale of Sydney is back in 2020 for its 22nd edition. Constantly capturing the attention of a global audience, the Biennale is intriguing, symbolic and current and always goes beyond delivering just a mere spectacle.

Since its inception in 1973, The Biennale of Sydney has evolved into the longest-running biennial in the Asia-Pacific region. Alongside the Venice and São Paulo biennales and documenta, Sydney’s reigns as one of the longest running periodic exhibitions in the world. The inaugural event has provided an international platform fusing art, ideas and conversation; through showcasing the work of over 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries.

The Act of Perseverance. Artist: Jose Dávila.

To welcome the new decade, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: ‘NIRIN’ presents 101 artists and collectives, 700 works and 600 events over 87 days from across the months of March until June.

NIRIN, which translates to the word ‘edge’ in Wiradjuri, challenges the audience to see beyond what they know; to question the history and times past; and to immerse themselves in the story of inspiration and imagined futures.

Ayanda & Nhlanhla Moremi’s wedding. Artist: Zanele Muholi.

Brook Andrew takes the reigns in 2020 as the Artistic Director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. “NIRIN proposes that creativity is an important means of truth-telling, of directly addressing unresolved anxieties that stalk our times and ourselves,” says Andrew; the first Indigenous Sydney Biennale director.

“Most importantly, it is a place from which to see the world through different eyes, to embrace our many edges and imagine pride in ecologically harmonious and self-defined futures.”

The Uprooted. Artist: Anna Boghiguian.

Across the 3 months, Sydney is transformed into an artful, cultural and inspiring wonderland of NIRIN – presenting the most dynamic contemporary art across the city’s most iconic venues.

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Pitjantjatjara artist, activist and leader Kunmanara Mumu Mike Williams (1952-2019) presents a large-scale protest piece in collaboration with the young men of his community, his widow Tuppy Ngintja Goodwin and lifelong friend collaborator, Sammy Dodd following his passing last year. Gamilaroi/Gomeroi Murri Yinah photographer, Barbara McGrady creates a kaleidoscopic compendium of contemporary Aboriginal history through exploring her life’s work at Campbelltown Arts Centre.

Zanele Muholi, renowned visual activist and photographer, brings three captivating bodies of work that look at the politics of race, gender and sexuality at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. On the historic Cockatoo Island, Ibrahim Mahama invites visitors to experience an epic installation of sewn coal sacks in the expansive Turbine Hall.

Artist: Josep Grau-Garriga.

The public program – titled NIRIN WIR, which means ‘edge of the sky’ – is a free event open to the public. The Sydney community will be able to enjoy over 600 events, featuring an extensive star-studded program of live and site-specific artist activations.

NIRIN WIR provides new ways for audiences to experience, challenge and celebrate contemporary art and gives a platform for people to come together, share time and learn from one another through inspired conversation.

Progressive’s installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

This program includes highlights such as NIRIN HAIVETA; a restored ferry decorated in traditional tattoo markings that celebrate and honour women of the Pacific Islands. From Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island, the ferry transports students to and from free of charge, giving them the ultimate tour of the harbour. Another show-stopping event can be found at Sydney Town Hall, where Thelma Plum and Ripple Effect put on a thrilling show at the much-awaited debate, ‘To cook Cook or not?’

Untitled. Artist: Teresa Margolles.

The Biennale of Sydney offers artists an opportunity to push themselves in new and creative ways and exhibit their work in a truly international context. By supporting artists, we offer audiences a chance to expand and transform what they know by considering and contemplating perspectives.” Chief Executive Officer of the Biennale of Sydney, Barbara Moore expresses.

“We are prepared, and we will do that with agility, creativity, respect and collaboration no matter what the world throws at us.”

Artist: Adrian Stimson.

NIRIN examines and responds to the current landscape of our world today, and shines a light on what we, as a community, can do to shape the future ahead of us by looking back through the past and heritage of our land.

Andrew notes, “In urgent times of shifting boundaries and conflicts, we desperately need to alter our actions to show respect for ancient cultures. Now is a potent time to heal and feel the rush and tension of new futuristic possibilities.”

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney, NIRIN is open to the public from 14 March – 8 June 2020. For more information, head to the 22nd Biennale of Sydney’s website here. 

Colectivo Ayllu installing ‘don’t blame us for what happened.’ Artist: Collective Ayllu.

Brothers (The Prodigal Son). Artist: Tony Albert.

Photography courtesy of Zan Wimberley. 

If you liked this article, we think you’d enjoy an article on Saturday Indesign 2020!

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