Speaking at the announcement of the first artists to exhibit at the 2020 Biennale of Sydney, Artistic Director Brook Andrew highlighted the meaning of the Biennale’s theme, Nirin, meaning edge in his mother’s Wiradjuri language.
“Nirin is not a periphery, it is our centre, and it expresses dynamic existing and ancient practices that speak loudly. Nirin decentres, challenges and transforms dominant narratives, such as the 2020 Captain Cook anniversary in Australia and reorients Western mapping, shining a light on sites of being that are often ignored or rendered invisible.”
In 2019, the International Year of Indigenous Languages, this decentering of artistic and curatorial practices occurred at the National Art School. Led by a First Nations curator for the first time, the artists announced for next year’s program were overwhelming from outside European and North American artistic hubs. The many First Nations and diasporic artists who occupied the old Darlinghurst Gaol came from a variety of artistic disciplines.
Including cinematographers such as Arthur Jafa and chefs such as Kylie Kwong, alongside local Indigenous artists such as Tony Albert and video artist Lisa Reihana of British and Maori descent, there is a pointed nod to the dialogues that can open up and conventions that can be broken down in the coming together of artists in large scale events such as the Biennale.
Andrew has identified seven themes that will run throughout the Biennale: DHAAGUN (Earth: Sovereignty and Working Together); BAGARAYBANG (Healing); YIRAWY–DHURAY (Yam-Connection: Food); GURRAY (Transformation); MURIGUWAL GIILAND (Different Stories); NGAWAAL-GUYUNGAN (Powerful-Ideas: The Power of Objects); and BILA (River: Environment).
Running from March 14 to June 8, the Biennale will continue to be housed in Cockatoo Island and Sydney’s major art institutions, including the MCA, Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, the MCA and the National Art School. Entry will be free.
For a full list of the artists forming the first announcement, click here: https://www.biennaleofsydney.art/media/media-releases/biennale-sydney-announces-2020-exhibition-nirin/.