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23rd Biennale of Sydney: rīvus

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be eagerly chasing creative exhibits around the city and experiencing the largest contemporary art event in Australia—the 23rd Biennale of Sydney.

This year’s program has over 330 artworks by 89 participants and 400 events, all free and open to the public from March 12 to June 13 2022.

The title of the 23rd Biennale is ‘rīvus’, meaning ‘stream’ in Latin.

rīvus is imagined as a passage through deep time, vibrant matter, and dark psychological waters.

To kick off my rīvus experience, I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA).

For the MCA exhibition, 22 participants explore connections between human and non-human worlds, making links between earthbound and watery beings and cosmic and terrestrial waterways.

Tensions between systems of nature and culture flow through the exhibition, as do themes of fluidity and interdependence, and the precarious relationship all life on earth has to water.

Because I love to share art that moves me, here are a few of my favourite pieces from the exhibition:

American artist Kiki Smith presents a series of large-scale tapestries exploring themes of climate change and climate justice, and vulnerability of certain species.

Robert Andrew seeks to unearth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and languages that have been buried through processes of colonisation using ochres, oxides, chalk, aluminium composite panels and electro-mechanical components.

Venezuelan artist Milton Becerra presents an installation with three large stones held in space by a network of thread. These threads are the structural elements holding the stones, which appear to levitate as central points within the mass of energy. The lines that radiate from them simulate orbits that create vibrations and subtle sounds.

The MCA offers free guided tours of its rivus exhibition, bookings are not required.

For more information about the Biennale participants, programs and other venues, you can visit the Biennale of Sydney website.

Have you visited any of the Biennale exhibitions around Sydney? What artwork moved you? Please share your recommendations in the comment box below.

About Victoria Hall

Victoria Hall is an English-born, Australian-based writer and illustrator. She is the creator of three picture books for children, Penny Prickles at Coogee Beach, Eggy Peggy Has Lost Her Leggy and The Fairy Beasts. For more updates, follow Victoria on Instagram or check out her bio here.


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