Archie Moore Wins Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion

Archie Moore’s exhibition kith and kin at the Australia Pavilion has been awarded the prestigious Golden Lion for Best National Participation at La Biennale de Venezia 2024. This is the first time in history an Australian artist has received this accolade.

In kith and kin, Moore transforms the Australia Pavilion with an expansive, genealogical chart spanning 65,000 years. kith and kin is curated by Ellie Buttrose and commissioned by Creative Australia.

The artwork bridges the personal and the political. While many of the stories in kith and kin are specific to the artist’s family, they mirror narratives throughout the world. Through this lens Moore highlights our shared ancestry and humanity: through the interconnectedness of people, place and time.

Awarding the accolade, the jury of the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia said:

“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.

“This installation stands out for its strong aesthetic, its lyricism and its invocation of a shared loss of an occluded past. With his inventory of thousands of names, Moore also offers a glimmer of the possibility of recovery.”

On receiving this award, Archie Moore said:

“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.

“I am very grateful for this accolade; 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.”

Creative Australia Executive Director, First Nations Arts and Culture, Franchesca Cubillo said:

“We at Creative Australia have been honoured to commission Archie Moore’s kith and kin, curated by Ellie Buttrose. For the exhibition to receive this remarkable international recognition has made us all incredibly proud and deeply moved. We congratulate Archie on his historic accolade and celebrate this moment of global recognition of the depth of his artistic expression.

“kith and kin is an extraordinary history painting of unprecedented scale. The celestial map of names traces Archie’s Kamilaroi and Bigambul relations over 65,000 years, demonstrating the resilience and strength of the First Nations people of Australia. Through this powerful and compelling artwork, Archie asserts Indigenous sovereignty and celebrates the ongoing vitality of First Nations knowledge systems and kinship.”

Curator Ellie Buttrose, of kith and kin, said:

“Archie Moore profoundly affects those who listen. kith and kin enfolds all of us into Archie’s family. To be kin is to carry responsibilities; duties for each other and all living things throughout time. This commendation is a celebration of Archie’s generosity – it is an honour to witness his art.”

Australian Government Minister for the Arts, the Honourable Tony Burke MP, said:

“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.

“When I announced the Government’s support for the new pavilion for the Venice Biennale back in 2013, we could only hope that one day one of our artists would receive this level of recognition. Congratulations to Archie on this well-deserved recognition.”

 

Image: Archie Moore (Australia) receiving the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale. courtesy: La Biennale