22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN moves online ahead of gallery closures


As galleries and museums worldwide begin placing exhibitions, artworks and art experiences online, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN is likewise heading into the digital realm.

With the closure of all six Biennale venues, event organisers and galleries are taking the necessary steps to bring NIRIN to life online, first beginning with a series of events and activations over the next ten weeks, all aimed at cultivating community, engagement and connection.

Based off the seven themes of NIRIN, some of the initiatives include regular Friday Instagram updates with artistic director Brook Andrew, a Spotify playlist that incorporates global communities which will be added to weekly, and a learning centre updated every Tuesday that features interactive interviews and tutorials (there’s currently an education kit from Ibrahim Mahama, and next week’s video will be Aboriginal land management with Tony Albert).

In addition, the Biennale will regularly update its YouTube with performances, readings, conversations and activations, as well as uploading weekend cooking classes—there’s currently an incredible-sounding fish curry recipe by Breaking Bread available online.

You can find the full program of upcoming events here.

While the Biennale exhibitions themselves are currently not available online, this has been flagged as a future possibility. As Steve Dow previously reported in our recent round-up of art you can see online, at this stage the Biennale looks set to utilise Google’s Arts and Culture platform in the coming weeks, aiming to provide 360-degree tours, video walkthroughs and curated content.

There are no doubt setbacks in digitising what is a very vivid, material- and site-based Biennale (particularly at a venue like the Art Gallery of New South Wales where artworks were acutely developed and placed in response to the colonial history of the gallery and its art collection), these are the first steps in giving viewers worldwide access to as many of the 700 exhibition artworks as possible.

As artistic director Brook Andrew highlighted in our recent long-form interview, connection is one of the central tenets of the Biennale, and fostering an online community is now a necessary move to sharing the artists’ urgent and important experiences, artworks, ideas and thoughts.

And if you’re after more Biennale content, Art Guide has been at the forefront of covering the art event and artists. We’ve published an urgent and astounding photo essay by Indiegnous photojournalist Barbara McGrady who tells the stories behind some of her most compelling images, a feature with Teresa Margolles who discusses the repercussions of pain, insight into the practice of Anna Boghiguian, the power of bodies with Bhenji Ra, and a consideration of whether we can ever have a plastic-free biennale.

22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN
Online Only
14 March – 18 June

News Words by Tiarney Miekus