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Here's what we know about next year's Sydney Biennale

By
Ben Neutze
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It seems like only a few months ago we were all ferrying out to Cockatoo Island for the Biennale of Sydney, right? The next Biennale might be almost a full year away, but the first batch of artists and theme have just been unveiled.

Brook Andrew, the first Indigenous Australian to direct the high profile contemporary art festival, has called next year's iteration (the 22nd Biennale) "Nirin", a Wiradjuri word that means "edge". But he's shaking things up a bit and moving what you might think of as the "edge" right to the centre of our cultural spaces. So he's got a strong focus on First Nations artists and artists who you mightn't usually see in our biggest galleries.

There are some pretty big names on the first list of 33 artists, collectives and creatives (we say "creatives" because we're not entirely sure we'd call Kylie Kwong an "artist").

At the top of our list is Arthur Jafa, a filmmaker who has collaborated with everybody from Jay-Z and Solange to Spike Lee. His recent work, 'Love is the Message, the Message is Death', is a blistering seven-minute video compilation showing the highs and lows of life in America for African Americans, set to Kanye West's 'Ultralight Beam'. It won Jafa enormous acclaim, but he's creating a brand new work for the Biennale, inspired by and speaking to Australia's Indigenous cultures.

There's also work from Tony Albert, best known for the way he provocatively plays with Australian and Aboriginal history, and Lisa Reihana, who represented New Zealand at the 2017 Venice Biennale to stellar reviews. Barbara McGrady, known as Australia's first female Indigenous photojournalist, is also showing work.

And the surprise addition to the list is chef Kylie Kwong. While we don't know exactly what she'll be doing, we know she'll be pushing the boundaries of art by bringing her own culinary skills to the Biennale.

Sounds pretty exciting, hey? The bad news: you're going to have to wait until March 14, 2020, when the Biennale opens across the Art Gallery of NSW, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Art School in Sydney.

The 33 announced artists are below. The full line-up will be revealed in September.

Tony Albert Born Australia. Based in Sydney, Australia.
Maria Thereza Alves Born Brazil. Based in Berlin, Germany.
Lhola Amira Born South Africa. Based in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sammy Baloji Born Democratic Republic of Congo. Based in Brussels, Belgium.
Huma Bhabha Born Pakistan. Based in Poughkeepsie, USA.
Blacktown Native Institution Dharug Nation, Australia.
Anna Boghiguian Born Egypt. Based in Cairo, Egypt, India and Europe.
Eric Bridgeman Born Australia. Based in Brisbane, Australia and Wahgi Valley and Jiwaka Province, Papua New Guinea.
Victoria Santa Cruz Born Peru (1922-2014).
Léuli Eshrãghi Born Australia. Based in Melbourne, Australia.
Jes Fan Born Canada. Based in New York, USA and Hong Kong, China.
Nicholas Galanin Born USA. Based in Sitka, USA.
Fátima Rodrigo Gonzales Born Peru. Based in Lima, Peru.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan Born Jordan. Based in Beirut, Lebanon.
Arthur Jafa Born USA. Based in Los Angeles, USA.
Hannah Catherine Jones Born United Kingdom. Based in London, United Kingdom.
Bronwyn Katz Born South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Mayunkiki Born Japan. Based in Hokkaido, Japan.
Kylie Kwong Born Australia. Based in Sydney, Australia.
Barbara McGrady Born Australia. Based in Sydney, Australia.
Ibrahim Mahama Born Ghana. Based in Tamale, Ghana.
Teresa Margolles Born Mexico. Based in Mexico City, Mexico and Madrid, Spain.
Misheck Masamvu Born Zimbabwe. Based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Katarina Matiasek Born Austria. Based in Vienna, Austria.
Jota Mombaça Born Brazil. Based in Berlin, Germany, Madrid, Spain and Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Prof Sir Zanele Muholi Born South Africa. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Mulka Project Yirrkala, Australia.
SJ Norman Born Australia. Based in Berlin, Germany, London, United Kingdom, and Melbourne, Australia.
Taqralik Partridge Born Quebec, Canada. Based in Kautokeino, Norway.
Laure Prouvost Born France. Based in London, England and Antwerp, Belgium.
Lisa Reihana Born New Zealand. Based in Auckland, New Zealand.
Latai Taumoepeau Born Australia. Based in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.
Gina Athena Ulysse Born Haiti. Based in Connecticut, USA.

Can't wait until 2020? Sydney's other biennial art festival, The National is open now.

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