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Feb 19 2020

Biennale of Sydney Launches Four-Year Collaboration With Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

by Kylie Yeung

Artistic director for BoS 2020 BROOK ANDREW, pictured left, with students from Collarenebri Central School, where they viewed archival footage from Dendroglyphs of the Kalimangl Bora Ground (1949). Courtesy the Biennale of Sydney.

On February 19, the Biennale of Sydney (BoS) and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) announced a four-year memorandum of understanding, committing the two cultural organizations to new collaborative projects focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the country.

The first project under this new collaboration is a screening at BoS of Dendroglyphs of the Kalimangl Bora Ground (1949), featuring rare historic footage and audio recordings documenting the removal of sacred carved trees from the historic Indigenous site in northern New South Wales. Facilitated by AIATSIS and granted permission by the Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi community, the screening will take place at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, in Sydney, during the festival’s run.

AIATSIS is delighted to be working with the Biennale of Sydney to create transformative experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, histories and heritage,” said Craig Ritchie, chief executive officer of AIATSIS. “By working in partnership with the Biennale of Sydney and First Nations communities, we can help the world to encounter and engage with that story and ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s knowledge and cultures are celebrated.” Established in 1964 in Canberra, AIATSIS is an independent Australian government statutory authority that is considered the leading organization for the collection, display, and research into the cultures of indigenous communities.

“It is important that communities have first say in the legacy, depiction and presentation of cultural materials,” commented Brook Andrew, artistic director for BoS 2020. “‘NIRIN,’ the title of the exhibition, meaning ‘edge’ in Wiradjuri, is about exposing that the urgent states of our contemporary lives are laden with unresolved past anxieties and hidden layers of the supernatural.”

Brook Andrew is the first artistic director of BoS with indigenous Australian heritage, and the first artist to lead BoS. His leadership marks a significant change for the institution, which over its first four decades looked to European and North American curators for direction. The 21th edition of BoS, in 2018, was directed by Mami Kataoka, director of the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, and the first person from Asia to curate BoS.

The 22nd edition of BoS will be presented at various locations in Sydney from March 14 to June 8.

Kylie Yeung is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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