Inside Inbetween at the National Museum of Australia. Picture: Supplied
Amy Martin, Inbetween opens at National Museum following its feature at the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture, 28 November 2021
How does Australia present itself to the rest of the world?
Canberrans will get some insight into this when the National Museum of Australia opens a digital reimagining of Australia’s pavilion exhibition for the 2021 Venice Biennale of Architecture on Monday.
Titled Inbetween, the exhibition is part of a longstanding collaboration between the Alastair Swayn Foundation and the National Museum, through the museum’s Swayn Fellowship in Australian Design.
It was created for the Venice Biennale of Architecture, an international exhibition held every other year in Venice, Italy, in which architecture from nations around the world is presented.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, curators Jefa Greenaway and Tristan Wong were unable to implement a physical installation in Venice so they pivoted to a virtual format that will endure long after the biennale has closed.
“This exhibition explores the architecture and architectural practices from a region with the richest and most diverse number of language groups and cultures anywhere in the world and we are delighted to share it with visitors to the National Museum,” National Museum of Australia director Mathew Trinca said.
“Architecture enables us to connect, to evoke Country, to reveal layers of history and memory, and to give cultural expression to our shared humanity through an approach centred on people and how they live and work.”
The theme for the 2021 biennale, which ran from May 22 to November 21, was “how will we live together”. In response to this Mr Greenaway and Mr Wong developed a series of architectural projects and processes selected for their powerful representations of Indigenous peoples and cultures.
The immersive, large-scale film experience features 20 projects in remote, regional and metropolitan locations across all states and territories in Australia, as well as in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Fiji and Vanuatu.
“What we’re looking at through the exhibition is how architects, both non-Indigenous and Indigenous, are working with First Nations peoples – traditional owners, knowledge keepers and elders – as a way of embedding cultural authenticity into our built environment,” Mr Greenaway said.
The Swayn Senior Fellowship in Australian Design was created in 2019 by the Alastair Swayn Foundation and the National Museum of Australia.
It focuses on all aspects of design, including architecture, landscape architecture, fashion, graphic design, furniture as well as product and digital design. The goal is to increase public connection to and appreciation of Australian design, through collections, collaborations, exhibitions, research and events, such as Inbetween.
“Jefa and Tristan, through Inbetween, have curated a moving, immersive experience that augments connectivity within our region and celebrates the diversity of language and culture across the Pacific,” Alastair Swayn Foundation chairperson Graham Humphries said.
“The collaborative projects highlighted in Inbetween vividly demonstrate the power architecture has to enrich and revitalise First Nations knowledge, cultures and identities.
“It is a privilege to support sharing this work with the Australian people, and we hope engagement with the exhibition fosters these integral partnerships to amplify and endure.”
Inbetween is on display in the National Museum of Australia’s Focus Gallery until June 12.