Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney announces 2020 exhibition: NIRIN

9 April 2019

Sydney, Australia: The Biennale of Sydney announced today the first 33 artists, creatives and collectives who will participate in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), titled NIRIN.

Barbara McGrady, Sister Girls stylin up, Mardi Gras, 2013
Image: Barbara McGrady, Sister Girls stylin up, Mardi Gras, 2013

The exhibition will be presented free to the public from Saturday, 14 March to Monday, 8 June 2020 at the Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and the National Art School in Sydney.

At the media announcement, Brook Andrew, Artistic Director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, shared NIRIN as the title of the exhibition. Reflecting on the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages, NIRIN is an important time to advocate for First Nation languages in the mainstream. Meaning edge, NIRIN is a word of Andrew’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales.

Brook Andrew added: “NIRIN is not a periphery, it is our centre, and it expresses dynamic existing and ancient practices that speak loudly. NIRIN decentres, challenges and transforms dominant narratives, such as the 2020 Captain Cook anniversary in Australia and reorients Western mapping, shining a light on sites of being that are often ignored or rendered invisible. NIRIN is 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.”

Seven themes inspire NIRIN: DHAAGUN (Earth: Sovereignty and Working Together); BAGARAY-BANG (Healing); YIRAWYDHURAY (Yam-Connection: Food); GURRAY (Transformation); MURIGUWAL GIILAND (Different Stories); NGAWAAL-GUYUNGAN (Powerful-Ideas: The Power of Objects); and BILA (River: Environment).

Jo-Anne Birnie-Danzker, Director and CEO of the Biennale of Sydney, spoke of the significance of the 22nd Biennale as an artist- and First Nation-led endeavour, and its spirit of collaboration.

A number of the artists, creatives and collectives announced today were in attendance at the National Art School: Australian First Nation artist Tony Albert; South African artist Lhola Amira, Australian First Nation custodians of the Blacktown Native Institution, Australian-Papua New Guinean artist Eric Bridgeman; Sāmoan-Persian-Australian artist Léuli Eshrãghi; artist and musician Nicholas Galanin from Sitka, Alaska; American cinematographer and artist Arthur Jafa; Australian chef and creative Kylie Kwong; Australian First Nation photographer Barbara McGrady; Austrian artist and curator Katarina Matiasek; Australian First Nation artist S.J Norman; Māori multimedia artist Lisa Reihana; and, USA-based Haitian artist-anthropologist-activist Gina Athena Ulysse.

The 33 artists, creatives and collectives announced today who will participate in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney are:

  • Tony Albert Born Australia. Based in Sydney, Australia.
  • Maria Thereza Alves Born Brazil. Based in Berlin, Germany.
  • Lhola Amira Born South Africa. Based in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Sammy Baloji Born Democratic Republic of Congo. Based in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Huma Bhabha Born Pakistan. Based in Poughkeepsie, USA.
  • Blacktown Native Institution Dharug Nation, Australia.
  • Eric Bridgeman Born Australia. Based in Brisbane, Australia and Wahgi Valley and Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea.
  • Anna Boghiguian Born Egypt. Based in Cairo, Egypt, India and Europe.
  • Victoria Santa Cruz Born Peru (1922-2014).
  • Léuli Eshrãghi Born Australia. Based in Melbourne, Australia.
  • Jes Fan Born Canada. Based in New York, USA and Hong Kong, China.
  • Nicholas Galanin Born USA. Based in Sitka, USA.
  • Fátima Rodrigo Gonzales Born Peru. Based in Lima, Peru.
  • Lawrence Abu Hamdan Born Jordan. Based in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • Arthur Jafa Born USA. Based in Los Angeles, USA.
  • Hannah Catherine Jones Born United Kingdom. Based in London, United Kingdom.
  • Bronwyn Katz Born South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Mayunkiki Born Japan. Based in Hokkaido, Japan.
  • Kylie Kwong Born Australia. Based in Sydney, Australia.
  • Barbara McGrady Born Australia. Based in Sydney, Australia.
  • Ibrahim Mahama Born Ghana. Based in Tamale, Ghana.
  • Teresa Margolles Born Mexico. Based in Mexico City, Mexico and Madrid, Spain.
  • Misheck Masamvu Born Zimbabwe. Based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
  • Katarina Matiasek Born Austria. Based in Vienna, Austria.
  • Jota Mombaça Born Brazil. Based in Berlin, Germany, Madrid, Spain and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
  • Prof Zanele Muholi Born South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • The Mulka Project Yirrkala, Australia.
  • S.J Norman Born Australia. Based in Berlin, Germany, London, United Kingdom, and Melbourne, Australia.
  • Taqralik Partridge Born Quebec, Canada. Based in Kautokeino, Norway.
  • Laure Prouvost Born France. Based in London, England and Antwerp, Belgium.
  • Lisa Reihana Born New Zealand. Based in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Latai Taumoepeau Born Australia. Based in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.
  • Gina Athena Ulysse Born Haiti. Based in Connecticut, USA.


MEDIA CONTACTS: For further information and to request interviews and images relating to the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, please contact:

Claire Martin, +61 414 437 588
Julia Barnes, +61 402 678 589
Sasha Haughan, +61 405 006 035
Kym Elphinstone, +61 421 106 139