The TarraWarra Biennial 2021 exhibition features 24 artists from across the country making new works that explore ideas of slowness, deceleration, drift and the elasticity of time.
The exhibition title Slow Moving Waters comes from the accepted translation of the local Woiwurrung word 'tarrawarra', after which the Museum, and its surrounding Yarra Valley area are named.
Guest Curator Nina Miall says the exhibition takes shape around two related cues: the idea of slowness, and the winding course of the Birrarung (Yarra River), which marks the northern boundary of the grounds of TarraWarra.
"In tune with the unhurried arc of the river, Slow Moving Waters proposes a stay to the ever more rapid flows of people, commerce and information that characterise the dynamic of globalisation," Ms Miall said.
Against today's cult of speed with the relentless hum of its 24/7 communications, the artworks in the Biennial mark a different sort of time – one which connects with the vastness and intricacy of geological and cosmological cycles, seasonal rhythms, interconnected ecologies, and ancient knowledge systems.
The participating artists engage slowness as a conceptual framework, aesthetic strategy or radical political gesture, invoking it as a mode of resistance and disruption that runs counter to the neoliberal turn in global politics.
Ms Miall said: "Between the hyper-acceleration of our current age and the impossibility of stopping altogether is a temporal space of possibility and resistance: slowing down.
"The TarraWarra Biennial 2021 reflects on the socio-political conditions that have made slowness an increasingly urgent imperative, carving out a space to explore its potential as both a passive and active course for claiming different forms of agency. The meandering logic of the Birrarung is a vital reference point for the exhibition; in its circling eddies we find ways in which we might all disturb the prevailing current."
Unfolding in different ways over its duration, Slow Moving Waters rewards close and extended viewing. A number of works explore time's extremes of scale, involve time- or labour-intensive processes, or are intended to develop and change throughout the exhibition. Others draw on strategies such as walking, idleness or sleep, marking intervals of time that cannot be colonised or commodified.
TarraWarra Museum of Art Director, Victoria Lynn, says, "Slow Moving Waters has been in development for two years, and emerges as prescient at a time when the world has been forced to slow down and reflect in new ways.
"This exhibition is notable for the strong representation of First Nations artists, and also distinctive in its site-specificity. There will be eleven ambitious new works that reflect the unique context and sense of place particular to TarraWarra.
"Slow Moving Waters deserves repeat visitation, with a number of works evolving over the course of the exhibition, harnessing duration as a key element and offering new perspectives and possibilities," Ms Lynn said.
Considering the broader arc of history against the pull of the accelerated now, Slow Moving Waters advances relations to time that are grounded in both place and community, attentive to an idea of the present as a site of multiple durations, pasts and possible futures.
The artists exhibiting in the 7th TarraWarra Biennial 2021 are: Robert Andrew, Jeremy Bakker, Lucy Bleach, Lauren Brincat, Louisa Bufardeci, Sundari Carmody, Christian Capurro, Jacobus Capone, Daniel Crooks, Megan Cope, George Egerton-Warburton, Nicole Foreshew and Phyllis Thomas, Caitlin Franzmann, James Geurts, Michaela Gleave, Jonathan Jones with Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO, Noŋgirrŋa Marawili, Brian Martin, Raquel Ormella, Mandy Quadrio, Yasmin Smith, Grant Stevens, and Oliver Wagner.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a vibrant suite of in-person and online events and public programs, and a catalogue featuring essays by curator Nina Miall and researcher Toni Ross, interspersed with an account of the origins of the Birrarung (Yarra River) by Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin AO and a series of water poems by writer Tony Birch.