Biennale of Sydney
Time Out says
Rivers and rivalry as the Biennale of Sydney announces new program for 2022
The Biennale of Sydney has announced the theme and first batch of participants for the next citywide event in the major international contemporary art series. Opening in March 2022, the title of the 23rd Biennale is ‘rīvus’, meaning ‘stream’ in Latin.
“That’s not just me saying ‘rivers’ badly,” said the new artistic director, Colombian curator José Roca, at the program launch at The Cutaway in Barangaroo. Adding another dimension, the word ‘rivalry’ also has Latin and aquatic roots. ‘Rivālis’ is derived from rīvus, and means ‘one who uses the same stream or water source’.
Roca explained that the new title will carry on from the previous theme, ‘Nirin’, where the Biennale championed First Nations artists from near and far – a brook into a river, if you will. The new theme hopes to enable aqueous worlds – rivers, wetlands and other salt and freshwater ecosystems – to share a dialogue with creators and raise unlikely questions. For example, can a river sue over psychoactive sewage? Will oysters grow teeth in an act of shuck-tastic revenge? What do the eels think? Are waves the ocean’s desire?
In a big change to previous years, people invited to participate in the Biennale will be referred to as ‘participants’ rather than ‘artists’, to open up the scope to more diverse talents, skills, practices and modes of being beyond the realm of the visual arts. So, expect to see experts like scientists, shamans, folk craftspeople and traditional singers amongst the throng.
Another difference for the next Biennale is that representatives from each of the major cultural institutions involved have formed a team of curators – known as the Curatorium – and will have a stronger voice in curatorial choices than ever before. This includes Paschal Daantos Berry from the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Anna Davis from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Hannah Donnelly from the Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.), and Talia Linz from Artspace.
So far 59 participants have been announced from six continents and 33 countries. One of them is 73-year-old First Nations artist, cultural heritage consultant and environmental activist Badger Bates, who travelled from Broken Hill to speak at the launch of the 2022 Biennale on behalf of himself, the mighty Barka (Darling River), the animals that live there and all the “little things that can’t talk for themselves”.
All the locations for the 23rd Biennale will be announced later this year, but in the meantime, it has been confirmed that for the first time, the Biennale will take over The Cutaway, the cavernous, below-ground, concrete event space at Barangaroo Reserve that has previously been used as an arts space at the Sydney Festival.
Do you think it feels a little soon to be announcing the next biannual event? You’d be right in thinking we only just had a Biennale. Let’s not forget that the 22nd Biennale was unexpectedly waylaid as restrictions on mass gatherings meant venues closed their doors just days after it opened in March 2020, with the multi-venue exhibition series reopening later in the year from June to September.
The 23rd Biennale of Sydney will be presented from March 12 to June 13, 2022. Admission is free. Find out more at biennaleofsydney.art.
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