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Voices from the river return: Sydney’s 23rd Biennale opens this weekend

Returning in a big way, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney opens across the city tomorrow morning.

Voices from the river return: Sydney’s 23rd Biennale opens this weekend

Leeroy New, Rhizome Colony, 2017. Installation view for Wonderfruit Festival, Thailand. Commissioned by Wonderfruit Festival, Thailand. Photograph: Wonderfruit Festival. Copyright © Wonderfruit Festival.

Titled ‘Rīvus’, meaning ‘stream’ in Latin, this year’s Biennale features new works and exhibitions of water ecology and its infinite connections to the natural world. 

Installation view, 23rd Biennale of Sydney, rīvus, 2022, The Cutaway at Barangaroo. Cave Urban, Ana Barboza, Rafael Freyre, & Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Lima.

With the Biennale opening for three months, Barbara Moore, chief executive officer of the Biennale says: ‘This year’s Biennale is going to feel great to experience. The city will be vibrant with artworks and events that invite everyone to come together and connect, celebrating the participants and their stories and honouring the diversity of thoughts and ideas that empower us all. 

Caio Reisewitz, MUNDUS SUBTERRANEUS, 2022. Installation view, 23rd Biennale of Sydney, rīvus, 2022, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Photography: Document Photography.

“We are thrilled to unveil these incredible works and encourage visitors to flow between the venues to see and feel different perspectives on our connections with waterways and each other.”

 It is these same aqueous elements that provide dialogue for artists, architects, designers, scientists, and communities across the globe. Over 1900 participants, both local and international, are presenting their commissioned works, conveying their relationship with the ecology of water. 

Julie Gough, Manifestation (Bruny Island), 2010. Installation view of Littoral (2010), curated by Vivonne Thwaites, Carnegie Gallery Hobart. Photograph: Julie Gough. Copyright © Julie Gough.

The participants’ work will be scattered across Sydney, many shown through numerous events and exhibitions correlating with their specific interpretation. The first program, named The Waterhouse, is a culmination of numerous events, exploring the parallels between the free-flowing river, and the free-flowing exchange of ideas. 

Cave Urban, Transience, 2019. Installation view for Sculpture By The Sea (2019), Bondi. Commissioned by Sculpture By The Sea. Supported by Transfield. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Juan Pablo Pinto

“The activations and experiences offered through The Waterhouse program extend upon the foundational principle of ‘Rīvus’– build upon what’s already there – through active and participatory work that acknowledges that we are all connected through water, by water, in water,” says The Curatorium, organisers of the Biennale. 

Ackroyd & Harvey, Lille Madden / Tar-Ra (Dawes Point), Gadigal land, Sydney, 2022. . Courtesy the artists. Installation view, 23rd Biennale of Sydney, rīvus, 2022, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Photography: Document Photography.

Rivers have been the ways of communication and the givers of life for entire communities and a growing number of jurisdictions around the world are granting rivers legal personhood rights. As we see waterways having a voice in the courtroom, we wanted to extend this further into the public sphere with our exhibition. Many of the Biennale of Sydney participants have worked with waterways, local and international, to share their stories and raise these important conversations.”

Rīvus, Sydney’s 23rd Biennale opens tomorrow, March 12th. Don’t miss a thing and check out its website here.

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