The full line-up of the 22nd Sydney biennale has been announced, and it’s huge. The biennale – held every two years – will return in 2020 and be guided by the theme “Nirin”, which means “edge” in the language of the Wiradjuri people of central NSW.
Ninety-eight artists, collectives and creatives will participate in the festival, which is Sydney artist- and First Nations-led and free to the public. New artistic director Brook Andrew is the first Indigenous Australian to lead the 12-week contemporary art festival.
The aim of this year’s Biennale is to present contemporary artwork that connects local communities and global networks.
“The urgent states of our contemporary lives are laden with unresolved past anxieties and hidden layers of the supernatural,” said Andrew in a statement. “Nirin is about to expose this, demonstrating that artists and creatives have the power to resolve, heal, dismember and imagine futures of transformation for re-setting the world.
“Sovereignty is at the centre of these actions, and it shines a light on environments in shadow. I hope that Nirin (edge) gathers life forces of integrity to push through often impenetrable confusion.”
Artists from around the globe will present works, and artists from Nepal, Georgia, Afghanistan, Sudan and Ecuador will participate in the festival for the first time. The Biennale will take place in six sites across inner and western Sydney: the Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Art School.
While the exact installations and experiences haven’t yet been announced – past years have involved video works in historic buildings on Cockatoo Island, a giant sculpture by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and a forest installation in the Art Gallery of NSW – the full line-up has now been released. The first artists were announced in April.
Australian artists and collectives including The Mulka Project, Tony Albert, Karla Dickens, First Dog on the Moon, Pedro Wonaeamirri, and Iltja Ntjarra / Namatjira School of Art will be joined by international artists. There will be work by artists including Lhola Amira (South Africa), Tarek Atoui (Lebanon/France), Denilson Baniwa (Brazil), Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Vajiko Chachkhiani (Georgia/Germany) and Aziz Hazara (Afghanistan). Artists from a number of other nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua Guinea, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Turkey and Sudan will also show works. Chef Kylie Kwong will also participate in the festival.
This year the Biennale will present Nirin Wir, a program that will encompass the area from the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s west to La Perouse in the city’s south-east. It will focus on Sydney as an expansive global city made up of complex, dynamic villages. It’ll include site activations, performances, residencies and collaborations at the Powerhouse Museum and Sydney Observatory, based around innovation, the melding of ideas and new ways of exploring the world. Plus, there will be a series of performances from two Bankstown grassroots organisations, 4ESydney HipHop Festival and Bankstown Poetry Slam.
The 22nd Sydney Biennale is free and runs from March 14 to June 8, 2020 at the Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Art School.