The Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion Award goes to the Australia Pavilion

Congratulations are in order for artist Archie Moore and curator Ellie Buttrose.

Words: Erin Irwin

It has just been announced that Archie Moore’s exhibition kith and kin, on show at the Australia Pavilion at the 2024 La Biennale di Venezia, has been awarded the event’s major award. The Golden Lion for Best National Participation has been bestowed on outstanding presentations by national pavilions for over 30 years, with this year’s judges Julia Bryan-Wilson, Alia Swastika, Chika Okeke-Agulu, Elena Crippa, and María Inés Rodríguez describing Moore’s work as remarkable for “its strong aesthetic, its lyricism and its invocation of a shared loss of an occluded past.”

kith and kin, curated by Ellie Buttrose, covers the expansive roof and walls of the pavilion, tracing a genealogical chart over the space of 65,000 years. In the words of the jury: “in this quiet, impactful pavilion, Archie Moore worked for months to hand-draw in chalk a monumental First Nation family tree. Thus 65,000 years of history (both recorded and lost) are inscribed on the dark walls and ceiling, inviting viewers to fill in the blanks and grasp the inherent fragility of this mournful archive. The official documents drawn up by the State float in a moat of water. The result of Moore’s intensive research, these documents reflect the high rates of incarceration of First Nations people.”

On receiving the award, Moore says that “it makes me feel honoured to be rewarded for the hard work one does. I am grateful to everyone who has always been part of my journey – from my kith to my kin – to my Creative Australia team and everyone else back home and those of the Venice lagoon”.

“As the water flows through the canals of Venice to the lagoon, then to the Adriatic Sea, it then travels to the oceans and to the rest of the world – enveloping the continent of Australia – connecting us all here on Earth. Aboriginal kinship systems include all living things from the environment in a larger network of relatedness, the land itself can be a mentor or a parent to a child. We are all one and share a responsibility of care to all living things now and into the future.”

The Hon Tony Burke MP, Australian Government Minister for the Arts, has responded to the news saying that “Archie’s work kith and kin shows the power of Australian art and storytelling going right back to the first sunrise. Australian stories help us to understand ourselves, know more about each other, and let the world get to know us. That’s exactly what this artwork does”.

The 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Foreigners Everywhere, runs from now until 24 November. Moore’s exhibition is located at the Australia Pavilion in the Giardini di Castello.

This article was posted 21 April 2024.

Image: Archie Moore, kith and kin, 2024, Australia Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2024. Photo: Andrea Rossetti. Courtesy: the artist and The Commercial, Sydney.

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