Biennale of Sydney announces 2020 exhibition: NIRIN

BoS Barbara McGrady, Sister Girls stylin up, Mardi Gras, 2013Brook Andrew, Artistic Director of the Biennale of Sydney has announced the first 33 artists, creatives and collectives who will participate in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020) – titled NIRIN.

The exhibition will be presented free to the public from Saturday 14 March to Monday 8 June 2020 at the Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Art School in Sydney.

Reflecting on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, NIRIN is an important time to advocate for First Nation languages in the mainstream. Meaning edge, NIRIN is a word of Andrew’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales.

“NIRIN is not a periphery, it is our centre, and it expresses dynamic existing and ancient practices that speak loudly,” said Brook Andrew. “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.”

“NIRIN is an inspirational journey driven by stories and grass-root practices, realised through twisting perceptions, moments of transition and a sense of being in the world that is interconnected.”

Seven themes inspire NIRIN: DHAAGUN (Earth: Sovereignty and Working Together); BAGARAY-BANG (Healing); YIRAWY–DHURAY (Yam-Connection: Food); GURRAY (Transformation); MURIGUWAL GIILAND (Different Stories); NGAWAAL-GUYUNGAN (Powerful-Ideas: The Power of Objects); and BILA (River: Environment).

Brook Andrew is an interdisciplinary artist who examines dominant narratives, often relating to colonialism and modernist histories. Through museum and archival interventions and curatorial projects, he aims to make forgotten stories visible and offer alternative pathways for interpreting history in the world today. Drawing inspiration from vernacular objects and the archive he travels internationally to work with communities and various private and public collections.

His recent research includes an ambitious international comparative Australian Research Council project Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial, responding to the repeated high-level calls for an Australian national memorial to Aboriginal loss and the frontier wars.

In 2017, Brook Andrew was the recipient of the prestigious Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (SARF) and in 2016 was appointed Photography Residencies Laureate at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris. In 2014 Brook worked closely with the collections of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Museo de América and Museo Nacional de Antropología for the exhibition ‘Really Useful Knowledge’ curated by WHW at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.

He curated TABOO in 2012/13 at the MCA Sydney. This was presented alongside a demanding public debate program called Blakatak that included esteemed First Nation and other creatives and was devised in conversation with John von Sturmer – a social anthropologist with a distinguished career in Aboriginal studies.

Brook is Associate Professor at MADA, Monash University; Honorary Senior Fellow within the Indigenous Studies Unit and the School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne; and Associate Researcher, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford. He is currently a Charlie Perkins scholar undertaking a DPhil at the Ruskin School of Art, The University of Oxford. Brook Andrew is represented by Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris and Brussels.

The Biennale of Sydney is a renowned exhibition of international contemporary art, the third oldest biennial in the world after Venice and São Paulo and the largest exhibition of its kind in Australia. Situated across multiple sites in Sydney and beyond, over nearly half a century, the Biennale of Sydney has commissioned and presented exceptional works of art by more than 1,800 national and international artists from more than 100 countries.

The 22nd iteration of the Biennale of Sydney runs from Saturday 14 March to Monday 8 June 2020. For more information and the list of participating artists, visit: www.biennaleofsydney.art for details.

Image: Barbara McGrady, Sister Girls stylin up, Mardi Gras, 2013 (supplied)

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