Biennale of Sydney Asks, What if Rivers Could Talk?
Fifty-nine participants have been named for the event, which takes inspiration from the legal personhood granted to rivers, parks, and mountains in recent years.
Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Will I still carry water when I am a dead woman? (2013). Installation view at Sabo, Lagos, Nigeria. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Ema Edosio.
The Biennale of Sydney today announced the theme of its 23rd edition, which will open to the public from 12 March to 13 June 2022. The Biennale is entitled 'rīvus', which means 'stream' in Latin.
'This edition of the Biennale will be all about our connections, and disconnections, with water, and as a result, with each other,' said the event's CEO, Barbara Moore.
Led by Artistic Director José Roca, the curators spoke of waterways as 'dynamic living systems with varying degrees of political agency'.
'Indigenous knowledge has long understood non-human entities as living ancestral beings with a right to life that must be protected,' they said. 'But only recently have some plants, mountains and bodies of water been granted legal personhood.'
U.S. Professor Christopher D. Stone was the first to suggest attributing legal personhood to natural objects in the 1970s. It has since been granted to New Zealand's Te Urewera Park (2014), Whanganui River (2017), and Mount Taranaki (2018). Ecuador and Bolivia gave legal rights to Mother Nature in 2008 and 2010.
'If we can recognise that a river has a voice, what might they say?,' the curators asked. They proffered that considering the world from the perspective of its water ecology raises unlikely questions, such as: 'Can a river sue over psychoactive sewage?', 'Will oysters grow teeth in aquatic revenge?', 'What do the eels think?', and 'Are waves the ocean's desire?'
The event's first 59 participants announced today come from 33 countries including Cameroon, Cuba, Taiwan, and Tonga. They include Zheng Bo and Duke Riley whose respective practices demonstrate a reverence for plants and waterways. As well as artists, the Biennale has invited contributions from architects, designers, scientists, and communities.
In addition to Roca, the curatorial team also comprises: Paschal Daantos Berry, Head of Learning and Participation, Art Gallery of New South Wales; Anna Davis, Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Hannah Donnelly, Producer, First Nations Programs, Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.); and Talia Linz, Curator, Artspace.
The full list of 59 artists announced so far is included below. —[O]
Participants in the 23rd Biennale of Sydney
A4C Arts for the Commons (Ecuador / Italy)
Ackroyd & Harvey (England)
Robert Andrew (Yawuru, Australia)
Ana Barboza and Rafael Freyre (Peru)
Badger Bates (Barkandji, Australia)
Milton Becerra (Venezuela / France)
Cave Urban (Australia)
Hera Büyüktaşcıyan (Turkey)
Tania Candiani (Mexico)
Yoan Capote (Cuba)
Casino Wake Up Time (Bundjalung, Kamillaroi, Australia)
Carolina Caycedo (Colombia / USA)
Alex Cerveny (Brazil)
Erin Coates (Australia)
Cian Dayrit (Philippines)
Melissa Dubbin & Aaron S. Davidson (USA)
Matias Duville (Argentina)
Clemencia Echeverri (Colombia)
Embassy of the North Sea (North Sea / The Netherlands)
Juliana Góngora Rojas (Colombia)
Julie Gough (Trawlwoolway, Australia)
Senior Craftsman Rex Greeno and son Dean Greeno (Palawa, Australia)
David Haines & Joyce Hinterding (Australia / England)
Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe (Yanomami, Venezuela)
Dale Harding (Bidjara / Ghungalu / Garingbal, Australia)
Joey Holder (England)
Marguerite Humeau (France)
Aluaiy Kaumakan (Paiwan Nation, Paridrayan Community, Taiwan)
Pushpa Kumari (India)
Eva L'Hoest (Belgium)
Mata Aho Collective (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Rangitāne, Ngāti Kahungungu ki Wairarapa, Aotearoa / New Zealand)
Clare Milledge (Australia)
Yuko Mohri (Japan)
Moogahlin Performing Arts with Aanmitaagzi Big Medicine Studio (Murrawarri, Biripi, Australia;Ojibway / Mohawk, Mi'kmaq, Turtle Island Canada)
New Landscapes Institute (Australia)
New-Territories S/he f.Roche (France)
Leeroy New (Philippines)
Wura-Natasha Ogunji (Nigeria / USA)
Mike Parr (Australia)
Marjetica Potrč (Slovenia)
Caio Reisewitz (Brazil)
Tabita Rezaire (France / French Guiana)
Duke Riley (USA)
Abel Rodríguez (Mogaje Guihu) (Nonuya, Colombia)
Teho Ropeyarn (Angkamuthi / Yadhaykana, Australia)
Diana Scherer (Germany / The Netherlands)
Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa)
Komunidad X Sipat Lawin (Philippines)
Kiki Smith (USA)
Paula de Solminihac (Chile)
STARTTS (NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors)
Jiva Parthipan (Australia)
Jenna Sutela (Finland / Germany)
Imhathai Suwatthanasilp (Thailand)
Leanne Tobin (Dharug, Australia)
Barthélémy Toguo (Cameroon / France)
Sopolemalama Filipe Tohi (Tonga / Aotearoa New Zealand)
Hanna Tuulikki (England / Scotland / Finland)
Gal Weinstein (Israel)
Zheng Bo (Bai, China).