The 23rd Biennale of Sydney Arrives in March with a Mirrored Pavilion and 600-Square-Metre Bamboo Structure
Sydneysiders will also be able to check out huge portraits made out of grass, and listen to the sounds of more than 15,000 animals.
February 07, 2022
Whenever the Biennale of Sydney hits town, it always makes a splash — getting Ai Weiwei to set up a 60-metre inflatable boat in 2018, for instance, and celebrating First Nations sovereignty and intergenerational trauma the focus in 2020, too. Returning for its 23rd event in 2022, the Biennale's next huge celebration of art won't be any different. On the bill this year: portraits made out of grass, mirrored pavilions, a a 600-square-metre bamboo structure and the sounds of 15,000 animals.
After announcing a number of highlights over the past year — starting with its watery theme, 'rīvus', and its first 59 participants, then including venues and some events, as well as that aforementioned huge animal soundscape at Barangaroo — the 23rd Biennale of Sydney has now revealed its full lineup. As proves the case every two years, it's about to be a great time to be an art-lover in Sydney.
Running from Saturday, March 12–Monday, June 13, the complete Biennale program will present more than 330 artworks by 89 participants, plus 400 events, all linked to its central concept — which means 'stream' in Latin. That doesn't mean that every inclusion features water, though. Rather, Biennale's 2022 Curatorium — as led by Artistic Director José Roca with Art Gallery of New South Wales Head of Learning and Participation Paschal Daantos Berry, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia curator Anna Davis, Information and Cultural Exchange First Nations programs producer Hannah Donnelly, and Artspace curator Talia Linz — advises that "'rīvus is articulated around a series of conceptual wetlands situated along waterways of the Gadigal, Barramatagal and Cabrogal peoples. These imagined ecosystems are populated by artworks, experiments and research, responding to our connections, and disconnections, with water."
In terms of what you'll be able to check out at venues such as The Cutaway at Barangaroo Reserve, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Circular Quay, Information + Cultural Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Art School in partnership with Artspace, The Rocks and Walsh Bay Arts Precinct including Pier 2/3 across the city, it's a varied bunch. Those grassy pictures hail from English duo Ackroyd and Harvey, who will be creating living portraits of Australian environmental activist Lille Madden and her grandfather, Gadigal Elder Uncle Charles (Chicka) Madden, at the Art Gallery of NSW. Made using native Australian grasses, they're also designed to fade, and to visually address climate change in the process.
A huge inclusion on the program comes from multidisciplinary studio Cave Urban, with the Sydney locals creating a work called Flow — which happens to be one of the largest bamboo structures ever produced in Australia, It's the studio's biggest-ever project, and will span 600 square metres through The Cutaway at Barangaroo, with its design inspired by the flow of a river.
If all things shiny and mirrored appeal to you, Irish artist John Gerrard will be displaying a six-by-six metre LED wall on a polished mirrored pavilion, also at Barangaroo, which'll show a single female figure clad from head to toe in green Irish spring leaves. She'll slowly walk in a circle upon an empty landscape in a piece named Leaf Work, which is meant to animate the stress the environment is feeling as the climate crisis escalates.
Also on the bill at Barangaroo: Mata Aho Collective's He Toka Tū Moana | She's a Rock, a woven installation that'll respond to The Cutaway's architecture; a mapping carving by D Harding, a descendant of the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples, that explores ancestral waterways; and a hanging sculptural sound installation that'll look like branches by Mexican artist Tania Candiani.
AGNSW will also play host to a wallpaper work in its entrance by Barkandji elder Badger Bates, which'll be based on one of his linocuts of the drying Lake Menindee; and to Naziha Mestaoui's One Beat, One Tree, which made its debut during the United Nations Climate Conference in 2015, and encourages folks engaging with the interactive piece to plant a virtual tree.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, there'll be large-scale tapestries from American artist Kiki Smith, a stone installation by Venezuelan artist Milton Becerra, and the display of a 365-million-year-old fish fossil from Canowindra for the first time. Pier 2/3 will feature 100 3D-printed replicas of Tasmanian stone tools thanks to Trawlwoolway artist Julie Gough, plus a new video work looking at selkies, the mythical beings, by British Finnish artist, composer and performer Hanna Tuulikki.
And, over at the National Art School, the lineup includes an outdoor sculpture by French artist Marguerite Humeau that envisions a world in which mass extinction has accelerated to a point of no return, as well as Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo's large-scale mural of satellite photographs that depict the progressive devastation on the Magdalena River caused by the El Quimbo Dam.
Entry to the Biennale is free — and the event also includes a program of talks and experiences, called The Waterhouse, at The Cutaway at Barangaroo.
The 23rd Biennale of Sydney will run from Saturday, March 12–Monday, June 13 across Sydney. For further information or to register, head to the event's website.
Top image: John Gerrard, Leaf Work (Derrigimlagh), 2020. Installation view for Galway International Arts Festival. Commissioned by Galway International Arts Festival for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery. Copyright © John Gerrard. Photograph: Ross Kavanagh.
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