Current Issue #488

Adelaide Biennial names its 2022 curator

Nat Rogers
Image: performance still: APHIDS, Australia, est. 1994, Howl, 2020, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; © the artists/APHIDS

As AGSA draws a line under a disrupted, but ultimately cathartic 2020 Adelaide Biennial, the successor to Leigh Robb has been revealed.

The world has changed since the 2020 Adelaide Biennial opened on the last day of February. Within just a few weeks curator Leigh Robb’s Monster Theatres, a colourfully dark menagerie of grief, horror and liberation, found itself shut down, shuffled online, and then finally reopened in June for an extended season that concluded earlier this month. Once the dust had settled, around 270,689 people had visited the exhibition in the flesh, with thousands more engaging with AGSA’s online presence during shutdown.

Suffice to say, after five months like these, the idea of 2022 seems positively abstract.

But the forward-planning of arts institutions waits for no one, viruses included, and this week AGSA has pressed ahead with the naming of Robb’s successor: Sebastian Goldspink, a Burramattagal curator and producer based in Sydney whose CV includes stints working with the Museum of Contemporary Art, MONA, Sydney Symphony, the University of New South Wales and the National Art School.

Only the second First Nations person to curate the Biennial after Brenda L Croft in 2000, Goldspink is also the creator of artist-run organisation ALASKA projects, and has curated exhibitions that have been shown in London, Los Angeles, New Orleans and Christchurch.

Tanya Linney
Sebastian Goldspink

“The appointment is equal parts humbling and exciting,” Goldspink says of his new gig. “I relish the platform to bring stories to people and to share artists’ vision and work. The opportunity to be able to work with the AGSA team on a platform of this scale, scope and history of the Adelaide Biennial is a privilege.”

“This Adelaide Biennial shows how astute these artists are and how important contemporary art is as a way to find and make meaning in a quickly shifting reality,” Robb says of her Monster Theatres, an exhibition that proved to be weirdly appropriate for this monster of a year.

The artists’ prescient works speak to the remarkable ability of artists to tap into anxieties, fears and hopes, to not only heed the warnings but sound them louder. These are threshold works that demarcate the boundaries of a new reality; just as the present pandemic is a watershed moment in world history separating the past from an unclear present.

“Whatever awaits, artists will be at the forefront of envisioning our shifting reality,” she says.

Goldspink is also a former cast member of Heartbreak High, a curious but satisfying career footnote that as a millennial journalist it is my duty to report.

The Adelaide Biennial will return in 2022

Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer, editor and broadcaster living on Kaurna Country. His work has appeared in Rip It Up, Broadsheet, The Saturday Paper, The Guardian Australia, The Thousands, dB Magazine, Jetstar Magazine and Royal Auto. 

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