Teach Your Children Well at the Biennale of Sydney

More strikingly than ever there’s a collective burning desire to nix partisan pettiness in favour of a united front.

Perhaps because we’re, as a species, facing a pandemic that kills almost indiscriminately. The only group of people who seem largely unaffected are children. Arguably some of the most disposable members of society. Most have not yet suffered bureaucracy or the arbitrary rules of civility required to be alive.

Since there is not an entirely unimaginable possibility that the world’s adult population is to be wiped out in favour of a Mad Max: Sesame Street epoch, we feel it’s time to cram those sticky little accidents’ minds as full of the uniquely pretentious tedium of adulthood as we possibly can now.

And there’s no more perfectly timed way to do that than the Biennale of Sydney.

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), titled NIRIN (the Wiradjuri word for “edge”), is artist and First Nations–led, presenting an expansive free exhibition of contemporary art that connects local communities and global networks.

Seven themes inspire NIRIN: Dhaagun (‘earth’: sovereignty and working together); Bagaray-Bang (‘healing’); Yirawy-Dhuray (‘yam-connection’: food); Gurray (‘transformation’); Muriguwal Giiland (‘different stories’); Ngawal-Guyungan (‘powerful ideas’: the power of objects); and Bila (‘river’: environment). New artistic director Brook Andrew is the first Indigenous Australian to lead the 12-week contemporary art festival.

Australian artists and collectives including The Mulka Project, Tony Albert, Karla Dickens, First Dog on the Moon, Pedro Wonaeamirri, and Iltja Ntjarra / Namatjira School of Art will be joined by international artists. There will be work by artists including Lhola Amira (South Africa), Tarek Atoui (Lebanon/France), Denilson Baniwa (Brazil), Tania Bruguera (Cuba), Vajiko Chachkhiani (Georgia/Germany) and Aziz Hazara (Afghanistan). Artists from a number of other nations including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua Guinea, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Turkey and Sudan will also show works. Chef Kylie Kwong will also participate in the festival.

This year the Biennale will present Nirin Wir, a program that will encompass the area from the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s west to La Perouse in the city’s south-east. It will focus on Sydney as an expansive global city made up of complex, dynamic villages. It’ll include site activations, performances, residencies and collaborations based around innovation, the melding of ideas and new ways of exploring the world.

So, go on. Strap your child into its dehumanising child harness and get ready because time is running out.

If we don’t teach our children the lessons we’ve learned before we’re gone, who will be left to condemn the Sydney Modern Project expansion as a perverse, jejune waste of tax dollars?



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