Archie Moore wins Golden Lion Award

Kamilaroi/Bigambul artist Archie Moore has won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation at the Venice Biennale for his monumental work, kith and kin. It marks the first time Australia has won the award in the event’s 130-year history.

Using white chalk on blackboard paint (as a reference to the Australian school curriculum and its lack of Indigenous history), Moore spent months hand drawing names in connected boxes across the 60-metre-long interior walls and ceiling of the Australia Pavilion. Collectively, the names in kith and kin trace Moore’s Kamilaroi and Bigambul genealogy, symbolising 65,000 years of an immense First Nations family tree. Beneath this canopy of names sits a large white table covered in multiple paper stacks, with the majority documenting coroner’s reports from over 500 Australia First Nations people who have died in custody. Beneath the table (which is made to look like it is floating) is a reflective pool of water, adding to the shrine-like, memorial nature of the installation.

Speaking about Moore’s work, the jury of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia described kith and kin as, “quiet, impactful” and said it stood out for, “its strong aesthetic, its lyricism and its invocation of a shared loss of an occluded past”. Commissioned by Creative Australia and curated by Ellie Buttrose, the Executive Director, First Nations Arts and Culture at Creative Australia, Franchesca Cubillo said, “kith and kin is an extraordinary history painting of unprecedented scale. Through this powerful and compelling artwork Archie asserts Indigenous sovereignty and celebrates the ongoing vitality of First Nations knowledge systems and kinship.”

Archie Moore, kith and kin, 2024, Australia Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2024. Photographer: Andrea Rossetti © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and The Commercial.

For Moore, the win serves to highlight the interconnectedness of all living things, despite the injustices of the past, and those ongoing. He says, “As the water flows through the canals of Venice to the lagoon, then to the Adriatic Sea, it then travels to the oceans and to the rest of the world—enveloping the continent of Australia—connecting us all here on Earth. Aboriginal kinship systems include all living things from the environment in a larger network of relatedness, the land itself can be a mentor or a parent to a child. We are all one and share a responsibility of care to all living things now and into the future. I am very grateful for this accolade; it makes me feel honoured to be rewarded for the hard work one does. I am grateful to everyone who has always been part of my journey—from my kith to my kin—to my Creative Australia team and everyone else back home and those of the Venice lagoon.”

kith and kin
Archie Moore
Australia Pavilion, Giardini di Castello 30122
Venice Biennale
20 April—24 November 2024

News Words by Briony Downes