The Biennale of Sydney announced today that it will open part of its 22nd edition, titled NIRIN, on Gadigal land at Carriageworks from 7 August – 26 September 2020. Thanks to the generous support of the Biennale’s Principal Patron, The Neilson Foundation, and the collaborative efforts of Biennale of Sydney and Carriageworks, this exhibition is reopening the doors of this significant arts and cultural precinct following its recent lift from voluntary administration.
Key works presented at Carriageworks as part of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney include:
- Brothers (The Prodigal Son), a stained-glass work by contemporary Australian artist Tony Albert inspired by a window in the National Art School’s chapel building depicting the prodigal son and continuing the artists’ Brothers series.
- Owed to Diaspora(s), an immersive video installation by multi-instrumentalist UK artist and DJ Hannah Catherine Jones using pop-cultural and archival material, poetic motifs and provocative imagery to tell a story of the African diaspora.
- Mineral Garden, a mixed-media installation created by Canadian artist Randy Lee Cutler and transdisciplinary Australian artist Andrew Rewald, delving into the hidden and unexpected lives of plants.
- Aproximación al lugar de los hechos (Approximations to the Scenes of the Facts), a powerful and complex memorial to lives lost and to sites where trauma continues to resonate and bare material traces of violent acts, created by conceptual Mexican artist Teresa Margolles.
- Extinction Studies, a new iteration of a yearlong project where Tasmanian artist Lucienne Rickard, as part of Adrift Lab, underwent a daily reckoning: drawing, then erasing a recently extinct species.
- Homeless in my homeland, a work by fourteen artists from Iltja Ntjarra / Many Hands Art Centre shown across multiple venues, tracing stories of country as well as struggles with housing and displacement.
These works were previously exhibited at the National Art School, prior to the temporary closure of museums and galleries in March due to COVID-19. While the NIRIN exhibition reopened across greater Sydney in June with extended exhibition dates to September/October 2020, in line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Government, the National Art School, and the Biennale artworks therein, remained closed to the public. These works will now be shown at Carriageworks alongside new installations by MzRizk (Australia) and Trent Walter and Stuart Geddes (Australia).
Barbara Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Biennale of Sydney, said: “The way forward is all about collaboration. When the National Art School was not permitted to reopen to the public, we – the Neilsons, Biennale and Carriageworks – all agreed that these new commissions were too powerful to simply disappear, never to be experienced again. So, we solved the problem by working together. Carriageworks is such an important part of the Australian cultural landscape, and I couldn’t be more pleased that, thanks to the generous support of the Neilson Foundation, NIRIN is helping get their doors back open. People are being welcomed into this iconic precinct once again to experience contemporary art that helps them connect, heal and learn from each other, at a time when the value of arts and culture to the social fabric of our community and our personal well-being is heightened.”
Blair French, Carriageworks CEO, said: “We have been looking forward to opening the doors of Carriageworks to the public for many months now. To be able to do so in partnership with the Biennale of Sydney is an added privilege. We have a long association with both Brook Andrew and the Biennale. Brook’s NIRIN is without doubt a transformative event, one that leads a critical moment in art and culture in our region. We are delighted to host these works, to welcome audiences back to Carriageworks and to play a part in the conversations generated by NIRIN. Our thanks goes out to Brook, our colleagues at the Biennale of Sydney and the Neilson Foundation for making this possible.”
Paris Neilson, The Neilson Foundation, said: “In a time of great uncertainty, The Neilson Foundation is proud to support the future of Carriageworks, and its reopening, with the exhibition of works from the 22nd Biennale of Sydney. NIRIN is such an important exhibition, and it is fitting that Carriageworks – the largest multi-arts centre in Australia – will present the work of artists and communities whose practices challenge dominant narratives and histories.”
Steven Alderton, Director and CEO, National Art School, said: “The National Art School was thrilled to collaborate with the Biennale of Sydney and to be a venue for the outstanding NIRIN exhibition. Unfortunately, we were unable to reopen our public gallery spaces due to duty of care to our students and staff as a tertiary education institution. NAS encourages the public to visit Carriageworks, to experience this unmissable exhibition including Teresa Margolles, Tony Albert, Randy-Lee Cutler, Hannah Catherine Jones, Andrew Rewald, Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre, MzRizk and Adrift Lab and the rest of the revolutionary 22nd Biennale of Sydney. We congratulate NIRIN Artistic Director Brook Andrew and the Biennale team for their tireless efforts to create and sustain this landmark artist- and First Nations-led exhibition through such challenging times.”
Under the artistic direction of acclaimed Indigenous Australian artist, Brook Andrew, this year’s Biennale, which is artist- and First Nations-led, showcases more than 700 artworks by 101 artists and collectives from around the world. The exhibition opened to unprecedented acclaim in March but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, closed to the public after only 10 days.
Brook Andrew, Artistic Director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, said: “Yaama! In these unusual times, I am so happy that NIRIN is moving from NAS to Carriageworks with such gusto! The artists represented here meditate on how human impact has sped up the extreme extinction of animals and highlighted our responsibilities to the earth through awareness of chemical pollution and vegetation migration, to the effects of global movement through slavery of those with histories of diaspora, and the murder and violence towards Indigenous, trans people and women. The current Black/Indigenous/Trans Lives Matter movement in solidarity with the heightened awareness of the environment are reflected in these artists’ works. Our responsibilities to be attentive to these artworks help us understand our responsibilities and how we can all make action for change, regardless if this is through quiet meditation or physical empowerment. I am very humbled and proud to have experienced the power of the artists’ work at NIRIN now showing on Gadigal land at Carriageworks, a venue that has strong connections to the history of Redfern and the international creative fields of expression. I implore you all to see this extraordinary presentation!’
The 22nd Biennale of Sydney is open free to the public. Exhibition dates at each venue are as follows:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales – Until 27 September 2020
- Artspace – Until 27 September 2020
- Campbelltown Arts Centre – Until 11 October 2020
- Cockatoo Island – Until 6 September 2020
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia – Until 6 September 2020
- Powerhouse Museum – Until 1 September 2020
- Carriageworks – 7 August – 26 September 2020 (Wednesday to Sunday)
A satellite exhibition, titled NIRIN NAARM, is also due to open at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne from 1 – 20 September 2020.
The Biennale of Sydney is aligned with the Government’s recommended safety protocols for the physical exhibition, working closely with all exhibition partners to ensure the Biennale remains a safe place to visit with strict social distancing and hygiene protocols in place. An overview of those measures are available on the Biennale website at biennaleofsydney.art