Robert Andrew featuring at rīvus, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022)

Robert Andrew featuring at rīvus, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022)


Robert Andrew, ‘Connective Reveal – nagula’, 2020, ‘Connective Reveal’ series, ochre, oxides, white chalk, water, and electro-mechanical devices, 600 cm x 280 cm x 60 cm. Installation view for ‘Yokohama Triennale’, Yokohama Museum of Art, 2020. Supported by Australia Council. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photographer: Kieta.


Congratulations to artist Robert Andrew on his participation within rīvus, the 23rd Biennale of Sydney (2022). With perhaps more relevancy than ever, this year’s Biennale facilitates a discussion between artists, designers, architects, scientists, and other practices that consider the country’s rivers, wetlands, and water-based ecosystems, exposing their complicated relationship with a social, cultural, environmental, and political agenda.

As a descendant of the Yawura people, Andrew contributes to the discussions at rīvus by sharing stories of the tidal flats of Broome, in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia. On show is his artwork Connective Reveal – nagula (2021), which forms part of the artist’s ongoing series A Connective Reveal. The artwork has been commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney, with support from the Australia Council for the Arts, and is courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Andrew’s Connective Reveal series introduces the concept of a ‘palimpsest machine’; a programmed machine that writes repeatedly over a surface, ultimately erasing the integral form of the written word and leaving behind surface markings in ochres and chalk. By doing so, Andrew gestures to the buried histories and languages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as a consequence of colonisation.

The palimpsest machine in nagula slowly works to reveal the title of the artwork (nagula) in large ochre-coloured writing, suggestive of the “long time salt water” tidal-flats from Andrew’s memories. Andrew acknowledges the power and ancient knowledge of water which has continued to form and shape the land of the Yawura people for thousands of years.