The 23rd Biennale of Sydney is underway and, with its conclusion not until June 13, there’s plenty of time to explore. This year, the Biennale’s eclectic contributions are spread across six hubs: the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Barangaroo(The Cutaway and Stargazer Lawn), Arts and Cultural Exchange in Parramatta, Museum of Contemporary Art, National Art School and Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay Arts Precinct. But the Space in Between is making the most of out your shuffle between locations.
This year’s theme – “rivus”, Latin for “stream” – aims to give voice to our watery ecosystems. It also inspires the Biennale’s Space in Between walking trails which link each of the six hubs. Visitors flow along the trails in either direction, meandering as a river might, starting and finishing wherever they please. The trails are punctuated by art, sometimes hidden but always thought-provoking, the theme always returning to our precious waterways. Walk the Space in Between with our guide to five of the trail’s highlights.
Between the Cutaway and Pier 2/3
Outside Pier 2/3, Embassy of the North Sea’s collaboration with Dutch artist Xandra van der Eijk, Seasynthesis, draws attention to the polluted soundscape of the North Sea. The audio composition – recorded in the sea’s depths with an instrument called a hydrophone – is referred to as “slow activism”, demonstrating the ambient sound combination of busy human sea traffic set against the sea’s ecosystem.
Between Pier 2/3 and Museum of Contemporary Art
Seals’kin:lament is the work of Finnish-British artist Hanna Tuulikki. Recorded on the coast of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Tuulikki’s medium is vocal improvisation, evoking traditional seal-calling songs. With the sound of the calls, Tuulikki invites the listener to muse on the nature of grief and healing, both personally and environmentally.
Between Museum of Contemporary Art and Tank Stream
In the lobby of 200 George Street is the colossal, 300-square-metre Ngarunga Nangama– which means “calm water dream” – by Indigenous artist Judy Watson. Crafted from sandstone excavated during the building’s construction, Ngarunga Nangama reflects on pre-colonial Sydney with carved maps and imagery of shell middens. After dark, the artwork is lit with watery lighting effects to reflect Tank Stream, a waterway that once ran parallel to George Street.
Between Tank Stream and AGNSW
Waters Way is an invitation by Uncle John Kelly and Rena Shein to reflect on a painful past and imagine a reconciled future. Walking between Tank Stream and AGNSW, participants are encouraged to imagine the lush beauty of a wetland and forest destroyed by city development. Along the trail, walkers are invited to play a game where they stop and reflect at key locations and write their experience as a line of a poem. Their shared healing poem is then read aloud at the walk’s completion.
Between AGNSW and NAS
Sydney-based art and design collaborative Cave Urban asks us to reflect on the utility of bamboo, a medium of creation shared by many cultures. The concept of Cave Urban’s activity is to look closely at the stand of bamboo plants and identify those examples which are at least three years old – the age required to harvest and use. By looking at characteristics like skin texture, leaf growth and node colour, Cave Urban helps city walkers to engage with this culturally important plant.
This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Biennale of Sydney.