FRIDAY FILES – Biennale of Sydney

FRIDAY FILES – Biennale of Sydney

The 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), titled NIRIN, is artist- and First Nations-led, presenting an expansive exhibition of contemporary art that connects local communities and global networks. Meaning edge, NIRIN is a word from Brook’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales.

Seven themes inspire NIRIN: Dhaagun (‘earth’: sovereignty and working together); Bagaray-Bang (‘healing’); Yirawy-Dhuray (‘yam-connection’: food); Gurray (‘transformation’); Muriguwal Giiland (‘different stories’); Ngawal-Guyungan (‘powerful ideas’: the power of objects); and Bila (‘river’: environment).


For the first time, artists from Nepal, Georgia, Afghanistan, Sudan and Ecuador will participate in the Biennale of Sydney. The exhibition will include artworks across 5 sites: the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Artspace, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Cockatoo Island and the MCA.

Artistic Director Brook Andrew says, “The urgent states of our contemporary lives are laden with unresolved past anxieties and hidden layers of the supernatural. NIRIN (edge) is about to expose this, demonstrating that artists and creatives have the power to resolve, heal, dismember and imagine futures of transformation for re-setting the world. Sovereignty is at the centre of these actions. I hope that NIRIN gathers life forces of integrity to push through often impenetrable noise.”

Ibrahim Mahama_s installation

Since its inception in 1973, the Biennale of Sydney has provided a platform for art and ideas, showcasing the work of nearly 1,800 artists from more than 100 countries. Today it is considered one of the leading international contemporary art events, recognized for commissioning and presenting innovative thought provoking art from Australia and around the globe. 

The Biennale of Sydney is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation. We acknowledge the Traditional custodians of the land and pay respects to the Elders, both past and present.

Anna Boghiguian, The Uprooted 2020

NIRIN is a safe place for people to honour mutual respect and the diversity of expression and thoughts that empower us all. 

For more information about the Biennale, locations and artists, please follow this link:


  • Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, installation view 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN, Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Ibrahim Mahama, no friend but the mountains 2012-2020, Cockatoo Island.
  • Anna Boghiguian, The Uprooted, Cockatoo Island.