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Archie Moore Wins Golden Lion Award at the 60th Venice Biennale

Archie Moore accepts the Golden Lion for best national pavilion at the Sixtieth Venice Biennale, April 20, 2024. Photo: Felix Hörhager/picture alliance/Getty Images.

First Nations artist Archie Moore, who is representing Australia at the Sixtieth Venice Biennale, has won the event’s prestigious Golden Lion for best pavilion, becoming the first Australian artist to do so. The New Zealand–based Mataaho Collective, whose four members are all women of Māori descent, received the Golden Lion for best participant in the main exhibition. The awards—whose winners were determined by a committee comprising critic Julia Bryan-Wilson; curators Elena Crippa, María Inés Rodríguez, and Alia Swastika; and artist and art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu—were handed out at a ceremony taking place on April 20.

Moore, who is the second First Nations artist to represent Australia, after Tracey Moffatt in 2017, is presenting kith and kin, 2024, the product of four years of intensive research. Drawn in chalk on the walls and ceiling of the Australian Pavilion, the work traces his family tree back some 65,000 years and includes 3,484 people. The installation additionally includes piles of government records pertaining to the deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians. Bryan-Wilson in a speech lauded Moore’s work for its “strong aesthetic, its lyricism, and its invocation of shared loss for occluded pasts,” continuing, “With his inventory of thousands of names, Moore also offers a glimmer of possibility for recuperation.”

“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,” said Moore in a speech. “We are all one and share a responsibility of care to all living things now and into the future.”

The Mataaho Collective—Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson, Bridget Reweti, and Terri Te Tau—won for their installation Takapau, 2024. Inspired by traditional Māori birthing mats, the installation is a web of delicately woven straps, tented at the Arsenale’s entrance and casting intricate shadows upon the walls and floor.

“Referring to matrilinear traditions of textiles with its womb-like cradle, the installation is both a cosmology and a shelter,” said the jury in a statement. “Its impressive scale is a feat of engineering that was only made possible by the collective strength and creativity of the group. The dazzling pattern of shadows cast on the walls and floor harks back to ancestral techniques and gestures to future uses of such techniques.”

“We come from working-class families, our materials are an ode to that. This is reflective tape that you will see on safety gear in the labor workforce,” said the collective in a statement. “Intended for high-visibility and often paired with fluorescent colors, these uniforms are meant to be seen—although the individuals wearing them become an insidious level of invisible. This is for those whose labor is relegated the background, to our parents and siblings, we celebrate you.”

Hamburg–based British Nigerian artist Karimah Ashadu won the Silver Lion, which is presented to a promising young artist. Ashadu was recognized for her Machine Boys, 2024, a film about motorcycle taxi drivers in Lagos.

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