The TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, curated by Dr Léli Eshrāghi, features newly commissioned works by 15 artists/artist groups focused on the interconnectedness of the peoples of Australia, Asia and the Great Ocean. Immersed in the cultural renaissances of the Majority World, this is an exhibition on Wurundjeri Country, connected through fresh and salt waters to many parts of this planet.
The title of the TarraWarra Biennial 2023, ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, is an alagāʻupu, Sāmoan proverb, meaning “he canoe obeys the wind.”This saying calls attention to the contemporary revival of Great Ocean celestial navigation practices, which has been accompanied by waves of renewal of language, thought, movement and relationships. In this spirit, this exhibition affirms the principle of humility towards living beings and storied places, which in turn generates neighbourly exchanges and joyful futures.
The TarraWarra Biennial 2023 gathers new commissions by artists, poets, makers, performers, archivists, scholars, weavers, painters, carvers, and filmmakers who live and work across Australia. In the works held first within these walls as well as in their wider oeuvre, the commissioned artists maintain and strengthen indelible relationships and responsibilities to creation laws, ancestral estates, matrilineal practices, and material experimentation. This takes place within a wider context of transnational contestation, desperately needing sustained intersectional critique (Kimberlé Crenshaw) grounded in a Moana cosmopolitan imaginary (Lana Lopesi) that centres Indigenous sovereignties.
Most exhibitions framing the relationships between Australian society and surrounding archipelagos in south/southeast Asia and the south/southwest Great Ocean have focussed on continuing to sample and dabble in intercultural understanding. By any calendar measure, it is time for complex conversations to take place, so that the sublime aesthetic and intellectual practices born of these contexts may be deeply felt and understood.
Curator Dr Léuli Eshrāghi says, “he Biennial artists demonstrate critical care for communities, knowledges, and futures that are being made possible today, by sensitively delving into important concerns. These include animal–human kin constellations, enduring matriarchy, cultural renaissance, intergenerational trauma, territory-
TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi faʻvaʻsavili artists: Regina Pilawuk Wilson; Vicki West; Sonja Carmichael and Elisa Jane Carmichael; The Unbound Collective: Ali Gumillya Baker, Faye Rosas Blanch, Natalie Harkin, Simone Ulalka Tur; enna Lee; Abdul-
The TarraWarra Biennial is one of the most anticipated contemporary art exhibitions on the Australian art calendar. It was inaugurated in 2006 in order to identify new trends in contemporary Australian art through an experimental curatorial platform. Each Biennial has developed a distinctive curatorial approach, focusing on a particular set of ideas or themes prevalent in contemporary art.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus1; and the Copyright Agency’ Cultural Fund.
Exhibition 01 April -
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Leyla Stevens, GROH GOH (Rehearsal for Rangda) (still), 2023. Fibre, HD single-