To commemorate the opening of this unique exhibition, and learn more about its origins and purpose, we spoke with Jodie Polutele, Head of Communications and Community Engagement at the Biennale of Sydney.
Tell us about the theme of this year’s exhibition.
NIRIN is historic in its focus on the unresolved nature of Australian and global colonial history. It presents the work of artists and communities that are often relegated to “the edge” and whose practices challenge dominant narratives.
As a community, we’re at a critical point in time where these voices, histories and spheres of knowledge are being heard and shared. The recent Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and in other parts of the world have triggered a belated awakening in many people—particularly in Australia—about the real-life impacts of systemic racism and inequality. But we have a long way to go, and the art and ideas presented in NIRIN are one way to start (or continue) the conversation.
What does this offer audiences, both in Australia, and all over the world, particularly during this time?
Many of the artworks ask audiences to be critical of dominant historical narratives, and our own perspective and privilege; we are forced to recognize and question our own discomfort. In doing so, they also present an opportunity to inspire truly meaningful action.
What are some of the highlights of the exhibition?
Some highlights include Healing Land, Remembering Country by Tony Albert, a sustainable greenhouse which raises awareness of the Stolen Generations and poses important questions about how we remember, give justice to and rewrite complex and traumatic histories. Latai Taumoepeau’s endurance performance installation on Cockatoo Island explores the fragility of Pacific Island nations and the struggle of rising sea levels and displacement. Zanele Muholi’s three bodies of work at the Museum of Contemporary Art look at the politics of race, gender and sexuality. Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens’ installation A Dickensian Circus presents a dramatic collection of objects inside the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ grand vestibule, reclaiming the space to share the hidden stories and histories of Indigenous people.
Original article Published here >
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