Mataaho Collective and Archie Moore wins Golden Lion Award at Venice Biennale 2024

Archie Moore and Ellie Buttrose with kith and kin (2024). Australia Pavilion at
Venice Biennale 2024. Photo: Andrea Rossetti.

Indigenous artists Archie Moore and Mataaho Collective have been awarded Golden Lions at at La Biennale de Venezia 2024.

The Aotearoa (New Zealand)-based Mataaho Collective, which consists of four Māori women artists Bridget Reweti, Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson and Terri Te Tau, have been awarded the Golden Lion for their participation in the main exhibition Foreigners Everywhere curated by Adriano Pedrosa. Their largescale installation Takapau (2022), inspired by woven Māori mats, is made of intricately latticed, florescent trucking straps that forms a 200sqm canopy over the entryway to Arsenale.

‘It doesn’t feel like just our award, but recognition of our supportive families, our visionary colleagues, our generous mentors and the Indigenous artists of the future,’ the collective said in a statement posted on Instagram.

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

For kith and kin, Moore has installed a reflective pool in the centre of the Australia Pavilion that pays tribute to the injustices faced by First Nations peoples today. Set on a platform above the pool are 500 document stacks mainly consisting of partly redacted coronial inquests into the deaths of Indigenous Australians in police custody dated in our lifetime. Across the walls and ceilings of the space, a celestial, genealogical chart spanning 65,000 years reminds visitors that ‘the reports do not represent nameless statistics; rather, they are children, siblings, cousins, parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents and great-grandparents’. A convergence of the personal with the political, kith and kin also highlights similar injustices around the world. The exhibition is curated by Ellie Buttrose and commissioned by Creative Australia.

In response to 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 are 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.’

Ellie Buttrose, curator 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.’

In the meantime, the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Participant in the International Exhibition was awarded to London-born, Hamburg and Lagos-based artist Karimah Ashadu. Her video installation Machine Boys (2024) at the Biennale focuses on okada, motorcycle taxis that were recently banned in Lagos.

This year ArtReview partnered with Creative Australia to produce a series of talks, ‘In discussion with kith and kin’ for the opening week of Venice Biennale.

Session one:
Q&A with Archie Moore and Ellie Buttrose, followed by ‘Art and Abolition’, featuring Lorena Allam (Indigenous Affairs Editor, Guardian Australia), Gülsün Karamustafa (artist and activist, representing and Hank Willis Thomas (artist and cofounder of For Freedoms). Moderated by ArtReview editor Fi Churchman. Watch here.

Session two:
‘Enacting First Languages’, featuring Dr. heather ahtone (Chocktaw/Chickasaw, Director of Curatorial Affairs at First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City), Arissana Pataxó, Denilson Baniwa and Gustavo Caboco Wapichana (curators of the Hãhãwpuá [Brazilian] Pavilion). Moderated by Daniel Browning (Bundjalung and Kullilli, Journalist and Editor of Indigenous Radio at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Watch here.

You can also read more of Archie’s thoughts on Australia’s participation in ArtReview’s Venice Biennale Questionnaire.

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