Chau Chak Wing Museum announces Biennale of Sydney artists

Twenty artists from Australia and around the world bring a breadth of formats and perspectives to the Chau Chak Wing Museum for the 24th Biennale of Sydney.
Indian artist Mangala Bai Maravi in a studio painting a black and white enlarged rendition of one of her tattoos

Mangala Bai Maravi is creating new artworks for the Biennale at Sydney College of the Arts.

The museum is an Exhibition Partner at this year’s Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, which runs from 9 March until 10 June.

The partnership brings to New South Wales Arthur Bropho, Alma Cuttabut, Parnell Dempster, Phillip Jackson, Gregory Kelly, Edie Wallam and a group of ‘once known’ artists, Australian Stolen Generation children presented by The Carrolup Centre for Truth-telling. The Carrolup child artists were forcibly removed from their families and detained against their will at the Carrolup Native Settlement in the 1940s, along with hundreds of Aboriginal children from across Western Australia. Only six of the eleven Carrolup child artists are identified by name – making the sharing of this story so important in identifying the ‘once known’ children to connect their living descendants with their ancestor’s artwork.

Works by four artists have been commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney:

Mangala Bai Maravi (India) is in residence at the University of Sydney College of the Arts, working on a series of paintings that replicate the tattooing traditions of her ethnic group, the Baiga, on a larger scale. Women of the Baiga tribe, based in central India, receive tattoos known as Godna from as young as nine. The longstanding practice has ties to Hindu mythology and has come under threat in recent years due to the displacement of the Baiga people. Maravi is accompanied by her assistant Amit Arjel-Sharma.

Citra Sasmita (Indonesia) will present a major new painting installation as part of her ongoing series, the Timur Merah Project. Established by the artist in 2019, the project reframes historical texts and cultural materials which objectify or omit the role of women in Balinese society. Sasmita’s interpretation of traditional Kamasan paintings will be rendered on three large scale canvas works.

Choy Ka Fai (Singapore/Germany) is presenting a video work, Exodus, part of an ongoing project, CosmicWander, exploring coloniality, dance and trance culture in Asia. It experiments with ‘IndoRock’ of the Netherlands and the Indonesian trance dance of ‘Dolalak’, considering their influence on Indonesian pop culture and the world of pop music.

A painting by Juan Davila of three people on a road, with factory chimneys in the background

2020, 2020-21, Acrylic and oil on canvas, 301 x 546cm. Photo: Mark Ashkanasy. Courtesy the artist and Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art, Melbourne.© Juan Davila

Niño de Elche & Pedro G. Romero (Spain) are creating a sound installation for the 24th Biennale of Sydney, building on a collaboration which examines and reframes traditional flamenco music. Combining de Elche’s training as a cantaor (flamenco singer) and Romero’s accomplishments as a visual artist and filmmaker, the duo will produce a ‘map’ of sound that charts antipodean connection and Old Galleon Trade routes.

Other works at the Chau Chak Wing Museum for the Biennale of Sydney are:

An archival video of poet and artist Diane Burns (Anishinaabe/Chemehuev, USA, 1956-2006) reciting her beat poem Alphabet City Serenade. An Indigenous artist, Burns became a member of the Lower East Side poetry community in the 1980s. Recorded for television, Alphabet City Serenade repudiates the effects of capitalism and gentrification on downtown New York City, where Burns lived and worked.

Photography by William Yang (Australia), known for his depictions of Australia’s queer scene in the late 1970s and 1980s. With a practice spanning more than five decades, Yang’s repertoire includes theatre performances using spoken word, slide projection and music.

Paintings by Martin Wong (USA, 1946-1999), a renowned countercultural voice who wove narratives of queer existence, marginal communities and urban gentrification during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Wong’s practice merged Chinese iconography, urban poetry, carceral (relating to prison) aesthetics and sign language. It also drew on the Latin American community he was closely involved with.

Paintings by Juan Davila (Chile/Australia), who uses the medium to debate aesthetics, politics and sexuality. Davila draws on the rich and varied histories in Latin America, Australia, Europe and North America.

“We’re incredibly proud to bring such diverse artists to the museum as a first-time partner to Sydney’s most global visual arts events,” said Michael Dagostino, Director of Museums and Cultural Engagement at the University of Sydney.

“The museum opened in 2020 with the intention of better maintaining and displaying the University of Sydney’s vast collections but also to host national and international exhibitions of the highest calibre. We’re confident our partnership will further establish the Chau Chak Wing Museum as an important part of Sydney’s cultural landscape.”

The museum is one of seven locations hosting this year’s Biennale of Sydney, alongside the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Opera House, White Bay Power Station, UNSW Galleries, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Artspace.

Exhibition details

What: 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, at the Chau Chak Wing Museum

Where: University Place, The University of Sydney,

When: from 9 March until 10 June 2024

Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 10am-5pm (until 9pm on Thursdays); Saturday and Sunday, 12-4pm

/University Release. View in full here.