NIRIN at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is a complex and resilient site in understanding the history of Australia under British occupation/invasion since 1770, when then-Lieutenant James Cook claimed Australia for the British Empire.
Since 1991, the MCA has resided within this Art Deco-inspired building, replacing the Maritime Services Board. The importance of this history allows for a complex intervention throughout two floors at the MCA.
Juxtaposing contemporary artworks alongside historical objects allows opportunities to question and re-tell legacies from a Sydney trajectory. Archives, objects and historical paintings are placed throughout the exhibition. These help to uncover forgotten histories or show alternative ways of viewing contemporary life, taking us on a trail to new realities and possibilities.
Listen to the introduction by Artistic Director, Brook Andrew, then explore the artists of NIRIN.
NIRIN at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia (2020)Biennale of Sydney
Joël Andrianomearisoa (Madagascar/France)
The multi-storied textiles trail of THERE MIGHT BE NO OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD AS GOOD AS WHERE I AM GOING TO TAKE YOU creates a shifting experience which plays with our viewing perceptions. Explore the installations
Eric Bridgeman (Australia/Papua New Guinea)
The text applied over this wall painting and adjacent to Frederick McCubbin’s 1855 painting A Bush Burial is a loose translation in Pidgin English of lyrics by British songwriter PJ Harvey, relating to a personal story of Bridgeman’s late cousin and poroman (friend), Awari. Read more
Kulimoe'anga Stone Maka (Tonga/New Zealand)
Two large-scale tapa cloths - Togo mo Bolataane (Tonga and Britain) and Kuini Haati 2 (Two Queen Heart) - tell the story of the relationship between Queen Salote of Tonga and Queen Elizabeth II of Bolata’ane (Britain). View the artworks
Tony Albert (Australia)
The Do Not Frack the NT banner was created in collaboration with members of Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network to speak to the complexities of politics, protest and environmental concerns. Read more
Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre (Australia)
Placed throughout NIRIN sites are ‘dollar shop’ bags painted with beautiful landscapes and messages tracing stories of Country and struggles with housing and displacement. In the Level 1 Gallery sits Our family left their Country with plenty of bush food and move to Alice Springs and become Homeless (Gloria Pannka), Aboriginal Hostel (Clara Inkamala) and X X NO FRACKING ! (Mervyn Rubuntja) ...
... and on Level 3, NO PLACE TO SLEEP (Kathy Inkamala), GROG IS BIG PROBLEM (Noreen Hudson) and I'm THinKing ABOUT HomeLand. MAYBE One-Day I'm go and Stay There (Mervyn Rubuntja). View all of the artworks
Noŋgirrŋa Marawili (Darrpirra/Yirrkala, Australia)
The pink-toned stringybark works of Baratjala were painted using ink from magenta print toner cartridges that Marawili discovered discarded on her Country. Read the story
Ahmed Umar (Sudan/Norway)
What Lasts! (Sarcophagus) was born from the aftermath of the artist revealing his sexuality and then being considered dead by some family members. It protests against childhood learnings that gay people are not worthy of a respectful end or funeral ceremony. View the artwork
Misheck Masamvu (Zimbabwe)
The collection of paintings, drawings and poetry form part of a nomadic project in which the artist deliberately places himself in new and unfamiliar environments. His paintings comment on political and social happenings with a restlessness and multiplicity. Explore the artworks
Jes Fan (Canada/USA/China)
Fan’s installation houses two large sculptures, Form begets Function and Function begets Form that were inspired by classical Chinese scholar’s shelves, functioning as something like an Eastern equivalent of the cabinet of curiosities – with all of the historical baggage which such a comparison might imply. View the artworks
Pedro Wonaeamirri (Melville Island/Andranangruwu/Australia)
With Patrick Freddy Puruntatameri
This installation kurrujupuni, arrikininga, yarringa, tunuwuni kapi katukuni (white, yellow, red, black on ironwood) applies design derived from ceremonial body painting to an immersive installation of tutini (mourning poles) with sounds of Wonaeamirri singing on Country. Read more
Huma Bhabha (Pakistan/USA)
Bhabha’s work addresses themes of colonialism, war, displacement and memories of place. Made using found materials, her haunting human figures reference ancient and modern artworks, along with popular culture. Learn more
Aziz Hazara (Afghanistan)
The multi-screen installation Bow Echo, is set in the high hills of Kabul Province. Battered by high winds, five boys climb and try to stay perched atop a large rock. Their aim, to play a plastic children’s bugle to announce the urgency of their community’s plight against repression. Explore the artwork
Zanele Muholi (South Africa)
Photographer and visual activist, Zanele Muholi, presents three bodies of work that explore the politics of race, gender and sexuality - Somnyama Ngonyama; Faces and Phases; and Brave Beauties. Read the story