Robert Gabris

Born 1986 in Hnúšťa Likier, Slovakia
Lives and works in Vienna, Austria

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Becoming an Insect 2023
A Moment before You Die 2023
Deadly Nightshade 2023
In the Garden of Catastrophy 2023

from the series
The Garden of Catastrophy

pencil on paper
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney and produced in collaboration with Phileas – The Austrian Office for Contemporary Art and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport
Courtesy the artist

The series The Garden of Catastrophy is an expression of empowerment, symbolising the reclamation of agency over one’s own narrative and identity. Each drawing challenges centuries of racism, discrimination and exoticisation experienced by the Roma people throughout Europe to this day.

Pressing against heteronormative assumptions, Robert Gabris’ drawings present a free-flowing identity more accepted within Roma culture. This self-described chaos isn’t a force of destruction, but rather an agent of transformation and rebirth – a metaphor for the ever-evolving identities and stories of the marginalised. Central to Gabris’ work is a critique of the Eurocentric anthropological discourse that has historically objectified and dehumanised Roma bodies.

Through the fragmented portrayal of the queer Roma body, the drawings depict a garden of healing wherein the ‘other’ grows prodigiously. Symbolising ancestral wisdom, the insects that populate the garden navigate adversity with tenacity, just as the Roma people have endured the trials of history and colonisation.


Read more about the 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, by purchasing the catalogue here.