No friend but the mountains 2012-20

Ibrahim Mahama

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

“Freedom and Justice for all including the so called ‘non-life’. For it is within these moments that we shift perceptions and expand upon our values of respect. Let’s aim to truly democratise form and the many hands they emerge from."

Ibrahim Mahama’s largescale, immersive installation dresses the entirety of the interior Turbine Hall at Cockatoo Island with jute sacks. A crowded patchwork of rich, brown colour and rough and smooth planes, together their marked surfaces mime the gritty materiality and architecture of the former shipyard and penal colony, to reference and stir the histories of labor and incarceration that lays dormant on the island. This work continues Mahama’s material investigation into labour, economic history and production. Taking an almost forensic approach, the artist sees the surfaces of these materials as holding and bearing the physical markers, smells and traces of the networks and industries they previously moved through. 'No friend but the mountains 2012-20' privileges the private lives of ordinary materials, and their ability to communicate urgent and complex histories to us, expanding our knowing of and being within an interconnected and inherently entangled world.


  • Title: No friend but the mountains 2012-20
  • Creator: Ibrahim Mahama
  • Date Created: 2020
  • Location Created: Cockatoo Island
  • Physical Dimensions: dimensions variable
  • Provenance: Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Anonymous, and assistance from White Cube. Courtesy the artist; Apalazzo Gallery, Brescia and White Cube, London / Hong Kong.
  • Type: installation
  • Rights: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: charcoal jute sacks, sacks, metal tags and scrap metal tarpaulin
  • Edition: 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020): NIRIN

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