Free/State – to be presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia from March 4 to June 5 next year as part of the Adelaide Festival – will include artists from every state and territory and will feature work in media including photography, painting, sculpture, installation and moving image.

“Each of these artists is emblematic of the many divergent facets of contemporary Australian art,” Goldspink, an independent Sydney-based curator, says of the line-up.

“Diversity is embraced and celebrated in Free/State and the exhibition is reflective of a nation still in the throes of grappling with its past and defining its future.”

Those exhibiting will include artists considered trailblazers, such South Australians Hossein and Angela Valamanesh and NSW-based Tracey Moffatt and Julie Rrap – whom Goldspink describes as “prescient and ahead of their time” – as well as emerging artists said to have come of age in a “fundamentally digital world”.

Julie Rrap, born 1950, Lismore, NSW, Transpositions: The Invisible Body, 1988, Sydney, 100 gelatin-silver photographs on plywood, 300.0 x 300.0cm (overall), 30.0 x 30.0cm (each panel), SA Government Grant 1990, Art Gallery of SA. © Julie Rrap / Copyright Agency

The full list is Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (WA), Serena Bonson (NT), Mitch Cairns (NSW), Dean Cross (NSW), Shaun Gladwell (Victoria), Dennis Golding (NSW), Loren Kronemyer (Tasmania), Laith McGregor (NSW), Kate Mitchell (Queensland), Tracey Moffatt (NSW), Stanislava Pinchuk (Victoria), Tom Polo (NSW), JD Reforma (NSW), Reko Rennie (Victoria), Julie Rrap (NSW), Kate Scardifield (NSW), Darren Sylvester (Victoria), Jelena Telecki (NSW), Rhoda Tjitayi (SA), James Tylor & Rebecca Selleck (ACT), Hossein and Angela Valamanesh (SA), Sera Waters (SA) and Min Wong (NSW).

The AGSA says the artists will offer reflections on an era of multi-faceted global upheaval, with the exhibition exploring “ideas of transcending states, from the spiritual and artistic to the psychological”.

Free/State is a biennial for the times: wild, frenetic and unbound,” Goldspink adds. “Humorous and filled with pathos, contradictory and unified – a celebration of artists exploring urgent ideas through a personal lens.”

Dennis Golding, Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay, NSW, born 1989, Sydney, Untitled Botany Bay, 2018, photograph, 155 x 87cm; courtesy the artist. Photo: Jack Cook

The Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, making it the country’s longest-running survey of contemporary Australian art.

The 2020 Biennial, which had the theme Monster Theatres, was curated by the AGSA curator of contemporary art Leigh Robb. It was forced to close for 10 weeks due to the COVID-19 shutdown, but still attracted to 270,689 visitors to the gallery and the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Goldspink, gallery coordinator for the Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf in Sydney, was named last year as curator of the 2022 Adelaide Biennial. He is a former lecturer at the University of New South Wales and producer at the National Art School, founded the NSW artist-run initiative ALASKA (a platform for exhibiting contemporary art in disused or under-used spaces), and has previously curated exhibitions across Australia and internationally.

AGSA director Rhana Devenport says the Adelaide Biennial is more important now than ever, “as we collectively embrace a newfound appreciation for creators and acknowledge how hard these times have been for those in the arts”.

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