22nd Biennale of Sydney: Programme Highlights

Words by Geraldine D'Ancona
March 14, 2020

Running 14 March – 8 June, 2020, the Biennale of Sydney will feature works by over 100 international artists across six sites in Sydney. The artist-led exhibition, titled “Nirin”, will address themes of sovereignty, healing, and transformation. Free and open to the public, the 22nd edition will present a diverse range of contemporary artworks spanning from video and photography to installations and performances, across six different venues in Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Art School.

Under the artistic direction of acclaimed Indigenous Australian artist Brook Andrew, this expansive exhibition of contemporary art and events will bring together the work of more than 100 international artists. It will engage visitors to challenge dominant narratives and propose new futurisms and paths to healing. Titled “Nirin”, or edge – a word of Andrew’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales, the exhibition will address themes of sovereignty, healing and transformation.

Throughout the 87 days of the exhibition, these projects and ideas will be activated and explored through an interconnected program of free and ticketed events called “Nirin Wir”, spanning from the Blue Mountains to La Perouse. “Nirin”, meaning edge, and “Wir”, meaning sky, is a series of activations and creative partnerships with communities, arts organisations and tertiary institutions such as the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney Observatory, Parramatta Female Factory and Sydney University.

Among the most awaited highlights, Arthur Jafa, recently awarded the Golden Lion at the 58th Venice Biennale, with his “Southern Hemisphere” premiere of his seminal work “The White Album”; Ghanaian-born artist Ibrahim Mahama‘s “A Grain of Wheat”, a display of rolled-up medical stretchers that are a result of Mahama’s interest in labour and collective enterprise, and a large-scale installation of sewn coal sacks, that speak to his investigation of the conditions of supply and demand in African markets; Cockatoo Island artist and audio investigator Lawrence Abu Hamdan‘s “Once Removed”, an audio-visual work that chronicles the testimony of a young historian, Bassel Abi Chahine; visual activist and photographer Zanele Muholi‘s three bodies of work that look at the politics of race, gender and sexuality; Australian artist Tony Albert‘s space for gathering, sharing and healing in the form of a greenhouse where visitors and families will be invited to write memories and messages on paper imbedded with seeds of native plants.

Biennale of Sydney, Australia
March 14 – June 8, 2020
Media Preview 10 March 2020
Vernissage 11–13 March 2020

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