Biennale of Sydney

Tennant Creek Brio

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"In Tennant Creek Aboriginal men have been stereotyped into figures of notoriety and disrepute – made to live on the edge of two worlds – a place they have learned not only to inhabit but to ride. They are NIRIN, and this is their biennale: a biennale embodied in them, and in turn, emboldening them to speak their truth."

In the Tennant Creek Brio's installation We are the living history on Cockatoo Island, protagonists’ posture and pit their weapons and curses in counterpoint. Dismembering and remembering, the Brio expose trauma from various waves of intervention sweeping their lands. Missions, mining, cattle and control revealed in a horror genre, the drove of damage. Haunted by the ghosts of the old and new, a psalm of alchemy, ancestors, and redemptive truth-telling surfaces from the Brio, both cathartic and true.

Marking both time and place, the Brio's Gangsters of art, presented at Artspace refigures and juxtaposes obsolete pokies from Tennant Creek’s old Shaft Night Club against jettisoned screens and signage. In a ventriloquist performance, an anarchic assemblage of technology, chance, and power sends-up and repurposes the dominant cultures machinery of alienation – financial, cultural and psychological.

The Tennant Creek Brio is an artist collective who navigate their individual practices through a collective spirit of energetic, experimental and transformative working, captured by their name brio, an Italian word meaning mettle, fire, or vivacity of style or performance. The restless energy of the work confronts the colonial projects many tendrils and forges a multi-layered visual response from old practices and new collective imaginings. The works traverse pre-colonial times, through to stories of conflict, massacres, mining, and knowledge from country. With a sensitivity to this particular industrial site, and through re-working disused materials such as televisions and pokie machines, the material world becomes part of a layered social critique, overseen by larger than life heroic figures that come from across vast histories and places, from the ancient world to the present-day.

Rupert Betheras

Born 1975 in Melbourne, Australia
Lives and works in Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, and Melbourne Australia

Fabian Brown

Born 1968 in Alice Springs, Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek, Australia
Language group Kaytetye, Waramungu, Warlmunpa and Warlpiri

Marcus Camphoo

Born 1994 in Katherine, Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek, Australia
Language group Kaytetye

Jimmy Frank (Jupurrula)

Born 1981 in Alice Springs Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek, Australia
Language group Warumungu

Lindsay Nelson

Born 1974 in Ali Curung, Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek, Australia
Language group Warlpiri

Clifford Thompson

Born 1980 in Tennant Creek, Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek
Language group Kaytetye

Joseph Williams

Born 1978 in Darwin, Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek, Australia
Language group Warumungu

Simon Wilson

Born 1987 in Tennant Creek, Australia
Lives and works in Tennant Creek
Language group Alyawarr and Kayetye

Exhibited at

Exhibited Artwork

Tennant Creek Brio, We are the Living History, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts, and generous assistance from Fondation Opale. Courtesy the artists and Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. Photograph: Alex Robinson.

Photograph: Alex Robinson

Location: Cockatoo Island

Tennant Creek Brio, We are the Living History, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts, and generous assistance from Fondation Opale. Courtesy the artists and Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. Photograph: Jessica Maurer.

Photograph: Jessica Maurer

Location: Cockatoo Island

Tennant Creek Brio, We are the Living History, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts, and generous assistance from Fondation Opale. Courtesy the artists and Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. Photograph: Jessica Maurer.

Photograph: Jessica Maurer

Location: Cockatoo Island

Tennant Creek Brio, We are the Living History, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Presented at the 22nd Biennale of Sydney with generous support from the Australia Council for the Arts, and generous assistance from Fondation Opale. Courtesy the artists and Nyinkka Nyunyu Art and Culture Centre. Photograph: Alex Robinson.

Location: Cockatoo Island