Apr 09 2019

Theme and artists revealed for 22nd Biennale of Sydney

by Michael Young

Some of the contributors to the 2020 Biennale of Sydney (BoS), from left to right: ULI ESHRĀGHI, JO-ANNA BIRNIE DANZKER (director and chief executive of BoS), KYLIE KWONG, BARBARA MCGRADY, GINA ATHENA ULYSSE, SJ NORMAN, LHOLA AMIRA, TONY ALBERT, NICHOLAS GALANIN, LISA REIHANA, BROOK ANDREW (artistic director of BoS 2020), KATERINA MATIASEK, ARTHUR JAFA and LATAI TAUMOEPEAU. Photo by Michael Young for ArtAsiaPacific.

On April 9, Brook Andrew, multidisciplinary artist and artistic director for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (BoS), revealed the theme and a partial list of the artists who will be featured in the upcoming edition of the event. As the first Australian of Indigenous heritage to take the helm of the 46-year-old biennial, Andrew will shine a light on First Nations peoples and ancient cultures from around the globe. Titled “Nirin”—a Wiradjuri word used by Andrew’s mother and her clan, meaning “edge”—the exhibition will challenge Western-centric narratives, and will be “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,” in Andrew’s words. 

While “Nirin” is informed by seven themes—including Dhaagun (“earth”), Bagaray-Bang (“healing”), Yirawy-Dhuray (“yam-connection,” or food), Gurray (“transformation”), Muriguwal Giiland (“different stories”), Ngawaal-Guyungan (“powerful ideas”), and Bila (“river”)—according to Andrew, BoS 2020 will be artist-led, with participants exploring their own stories and how they connect to the rest of the world. 

The first list of contributors, comprising 33 names, is as follows:

Tony Albert 

Maria Thereza Alves 

Lhola Amira

Sammy Baloji 

Huma Bhabha 

Blacktown Native Institution 

Anna Boghiguian 

Eric Bridgeman 

Victoria Santa Cruz 

Léuli Eshrãghi 

Jes Fan 

Nicholas Galanin 

Fátima Rodrigo Gonzales 

Lawrence Abu Hamdan 

Arthur Jafa 

Hannah Catherine Jones 

Bronwyn Katz 


Kylie Kwong 

Barbara McGrady 

Ibrahim Mahama 

Teresa Margolles 

Misheck Masamvu 

Katarina Matiasek 

Jota Mombaça 

Prof Sir Zanele Muholi 

The Mulka Project 

SJ Norman 

Taqralik Partridge 

Laure Prouvost 

Lisa Reihana 

Latai Taumoepeau 

Gina Athena Ulysse 

The 22nd BoS is scheduled to run from March 14 to June 8, 2020, across spaces including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and the National Art School in Sydney.

Michael Young is a contributing editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Gillman Barracks