Biennale of Sydney

Katarina Matiasek

Katarina Matiasek, Far from Settled, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Phileas Foundation, and generous assistance from the Federal Chancellery of Austria. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
Katarina Matiasek, Far from Settled, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Phileas Foundation, and generous assistance from the Federal Chancellery of Austria. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
Katarina Matiasek, Far from Settled, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Phileas Foundation, and generous assistance from the Federal Chancellery of Austria. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.

Katarina Matiasek

Born 1965 in Vienna, Austria
Lives and works in Vienna


"My artistic practice is marked by formal and medial interventions that shift given modes of perception and narrative. In this sense, NIRIN structurally lies at the core of my work, requiring at the same time that I set out and keep searching for it. To embark on this journey with Indigenous communities is an immense privilege and will bring me closer to an understanding of NIRIN in the proper sense of the word."

Over the last two decades, there have been an increasing number of repatriations of different kinds of objects and archives, as well ancestral human remains, to their original communities after being long held in museum and university collections. The removal of these objects and the anthropological framing of Indigenous cultures through collection and display practices, has been a central part of the colonial project. While the return of high-profile items may attract some media attention, the on-going story of what happens following repatriations and the effects on community have been little investigated. Katarina Matiasek’s Far From Settled aims to trace the cultural, political and personal reverberations that resurface with acts of repatriation. Through experimental interview-based filmmaking and a sculptural infrastructure, Matiasek presents an un-doing of the anthropological archive, imbuing it with places, people, and stories originally ignored or erased through processes of collection, storage and display.

Those interviewed in Australia for this project are:
Christine Doherty 'Darlutta', Elder and Storyteller of the Woppaburra and Butchulla people
Dr Lyndon Ormond Parker, Alyawarr cultural studies scholar
William 'Bill' Risk OAM, Senior Elder of the Larrakia people
Roberta Skinner, Gumbaynngirr historian

"I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which our interviews were filmed, and pay my respects to the Elders past, present and emerging, for they hold the key to our planet's future." - Katarina Matiasek

Katarina Matiasek works across photography, film and sound as an artist and curator. Since completing her studies in Media Arts and in Anthropology, across numerous international exhibition projects and screenings she has investigated the structural connections between archives and memory, and between media and perception-based images, especially those of landscapes and the human body. Her artistic research into different anthropological collections has led to a number of repatriations, with the aim of returning a voice to the cultures of origin.

Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Phileas – A Fund for Contemporary Art, and generous assistance from the Federal Chancellery of Austria

Exhibited at

Exhibited Artwork

Katarina Matiasek, Far from Settled, 2020, mixed-media installation. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Phileas Foundation, and generous assistance from the Federal Chancellery of Austria. Courtesy the artist. Interview participants: Christine Doherty, Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker, William ‘Bill’ Risk OAM, Roberta Skinner; Camera assistant: Tanja Bruckner; Archival images: Courtesy Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Vienna. Kindly supported by: Phileas – A Fund for Contemporary Art, Vienna and the Austrian Federal Chancellery

Location: Cockatoo Island