Giving the Biennale of Sydney an Edge: Interview with Brook Andrew
By Michael Young
When it opens to the public at six venues on March 14, the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (BoS) will be the first edition in its 47-year history with an artist as its artistic director, and it will mark the first time that an Indigenous Australian has helmed the Biennale. Multi-disciplinary Wiradjuri artist Brook Andrew, whose practice spans visual and historical research into the iniquities of colonial and indigenous histories of Australia, has selected 98 artists from 47 countries to show in BoS22, many of whom identify as Indigenous or LGBTQ, and whose diverse variety of cultural and activist practices offer alternative narratives to the racist and gender stereotyping that swirls around these cultures. Titled “Nirin”—the name is a Wiradjuri word meaning “edge”—BoS22 is a radical departure from previous Biennales, challenging the system of the European-American art canon that has traditionally dominated the BoS’s past editions, at least up until the 21st Biennale of Sydney in 2018, which was directed by Mami Kataoka, the first time that a person from Asia was selected as artistic director of BoS. In mid-February, contributing editor Michael Young sat down with Andrew in Sydney to discuss his plans for BoS22 and what drives his artistic interests.