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20th Biennale of Sydney

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed

Mella Jaarsma Dogwalk 2015-2016

Mella Jaarsma Dogwalk 2015-2016 multi-channel video Courtesy of the artist and Arndt Fine Art. Photograph: Mie Cornoedus

15 March 2016

Art Gallery of New South Wales transforms into the Embassy of Spirits

This Friday the Art Gallery of New South Wales continues its 40-year relationship with the Biennale of Sydney as a major venue for the 20th Biennale program titled The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed. Artistic Director of the 20th Biennale of Sydney Stephanie Rosenthal has assigned each of the exhibition’s major venues a role as an “embassy of thought”.

“Artists exhibiting at the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s Embassy of Spirits explore the intersection between the spiritual and the philosophical, including works concerned with personal and religious rituals,” Rosenthal said.

The Embassy of Spirits hosts the work of the following artists and collectives: Johanna Calle, Joyce Campbell, Yin-Ju Chen, Erub Arts, Philipp Gehmacher, Sheila Hicks, Mella Jaarsma, Benoît Lachambre, Jumana Manna, Dane Mitchell, Chrysa Parkinson, Hahn Rowe, Christoph Schlingensief, Sudarshan Shetty, Taro Shinoda, Rodel Tapaya, Nyapanyapa Yunupingu and Ken Thaiday Snr in collaboration with Jason Christopher.

Art Gallery of New South Wales Director Dr Michael Brand said the Embassy of Spirits provides Biennale visitors a place to consider the role of spirituality in contemporary society.

“I welcome our esteemed artists from across Australia and around the globe to our Embassy of Spirits where their work provokes thought about our belief systems and rituals through the language of art,” Brand said.

“The Gallery has been in proud partnership with the Biennale of Sydney since 1976 when it first became a host for the exhibition program and last year this relationship deepened with the launch of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s National Art Archive that coincided with the gifting of the Biennale of Sydney archive,” Brand added.

Visitors will be drawn into the Embassy of Spirits by Sheila Hicks’ colourful, fibre-based transformation of the nineteenth-century facade of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Inside the exhibition the spiritual is explored through the filmic works of Christoph Schlingensief, Sudarshan Shetty and Jumana Manna; alongside the paintings of Rodel Tapaya and the sculptures of Nyapanyapa Yunupingu.

The Embassy of Spirits also invites visitors to immerse themselves in Taro Shinoda’s meditative installation reflecting on spiritual connections to place and material while the works of Colombian born Johanna Calle, Torres Strait Islander artist Ken Thaiday Snr, New Zealand photographer Joyce Campbell, and artist collective, Erub Arts, showcase innovative, Indigenous cultural practices and address environmental concerns.

The promenading of Mella Jaarsma’s Dogwalk (2016) and the month-long chain performance ghost telephone curated by Adrian Heathfield, along with Dane Mitchell’s sculptural works using homeopathic remedies and Yin-Ju Chen’s map-like drawings based on horary astrology, are also program highlights at the Embassy of Spirits.

The 20th Biennale of Sydney’s Embassy of Spirits encourages consideration of the Biennale program in conversation with the Art Gallery of New South Wales’s rich historical and contemporary collections.

20th Biennale of Sydney related events at the Gallery
20th Biennale of Sydney education program at the Gallery

On view
18 Mar – 5 Jun 2016
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney


Media contact

Hannah McKissock-Davis
Tel 02 9225 1671