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The National

Art, Galleries Multiple venues Until Sunday September 5 2021
Abdullah M I Syed, AGNSW, The National 2021
Photograph: Mim Sterling | detail, Assemblage of the Fragmented Landscape, 2020, Mehwish Iqbal
Karrabing Film Collective, Carriageworks The National 2021
Photograph: Karrabing Film Collective | Day in the Life, 2020, Karrabing Film Collective
Abdullah M I Syed, AGNSW, The National 2021
Photograph: Abdullah M I Syed and Gallery Sally Dan Cuthbert | detail, Currency of love, 2016-20, Abdullah M I Syed
Betty Muffler and Maringka Burton, MCA, The National 2021
Photograph: Iwantja Arts | detail, Ngangkari ngura (Healing Country), 2020, Betty Muffler and Maringka Burton

Time Out says

The exciting biennial art event celebrating Australian artists returns to Sydney

March is a HUGE month for art lovers in Sydney, and it’s about to get even bigger. Stretching luxuriously across The Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW), the MCA and Carriageworks, the biennial smorgasbord of creativity that is The National is ready to wow us.

The event kicks off March 26, with each venue hosting a bevy of brilliant contemporary Australian artists in what is widely considered to be the local equivalent of the Biennale. It's the third outing of this awesome art event that fabulously connects creative precincts in the Domain, Redfern and Circular Quay and showcases around 40 artists, collectives and collaboratives.

Over at AGNSW, curator of Asian art ,Matt Cox, and assistant curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Erin Vink, have assembled a powerhouse of creative minds including Pakistani-born, Sydney, Karachi and New York-based Abdullah M. I. Syed, who weaves together real and fictional narratives of east and west. His work sits alongside that of Australian-Balinese photographer and filmmaker Leyla Stevens, who just won the Blake Prize. Multi-disciplinary shapeshifter Justin Shoulder uses connections between queer, migrant, spiritual and intercultural experiences. First Nations artists Betty Muffler and Maringka Burton will field a collaborative work.

“The National 2021 at AGNSW will examine different modes of care: how it engenders our relationships with each other, how we navigate these relationships, and in turn the relationships we have with sentient Country,” say Cox and Vink. “Preferencing Indigenous ways of knowing, seeing and being, the exhibition will explore these ideas of care through varied forms of expression, including languages that are written, spoken or expressed by the body.”

MCA’s chief curator Rachel Kent has assembled the likes of Northern Territory leading light and Dhudi-Djapu woman Mulkun Wirrpanda, a Yolgnu leader, bark painter, carver, weaver and print-maker. Sydney artist Deborah Kelly’s body-driven works always throw up intriguing takes on gender, power and privilege, which swirl around our political discourse more than ever right now. You’ll also be able to see Pakistan-born, Sydney-based multi-disciplinary artist Mehwish Iqbal’s outstanding tapestries. Kent said, “Women’s practice is central to The National 2021 at the MCA, explored through diasporic and familial histories, labour and learning, and wider mythological narratives.”

Abigail Moncrieff will curate the Carriageworks contingent. Expect to be astounded by film work from the Northern Territory’s Karrabing Film Collective. There's also new work from Victorian collaborators Janet Burchill and Jennifer McCamley, who often glow up a room with neon installations, and Sydney-based figurative painter Mitch Cairns. “The artists are connected across generations and brought together by a spirit of collaboration,” Moncrieff says. “With an attention to the present moment, many of the works consider responsibility and lived experience through psychological and intuitive responses, alongside some of the most urgent and activist voices from around Australia.”

We can’t wait to see (and hear) what they have in store for us. The National is at AGNSW March 26-September 5, the MCA from March 26-August 22, and Carriageworks from March 26-June 20. For more information, check here.

And here's our guide to the coolest exhibitions around Sydney this month


Venue name: Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)
Address: 140 George St
The Rocks
Price: Free

Dates And Times

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