Artists from many nations across the continent of Australia including: Awakabal | Bundjalung/Kullilli | Gija | Gunditjmara | Kokatha/Nukunu | Mutthi Mutthi | Ngarrindjeri | Ngiyampaa | Paakantji/Barkindji | Plangermairreenner | Tebrikunna | Yolgnu | Yorta Yorta | come together with artists from many nations around the world including: Afghanistan | Burundi/Tanzania | Canada | East Timor | Finland | France | Greece | Haiti | Italy | Japan | Pakistan | Philippines | Switzerland | United Kingdom | USA |

Imagine for a moment that there is no such thing as history; and that rather, everything that has ever happened is always entirely present, everywhere all at oncehere.

Mildura Palimpsest Biennale #10 brings more than 70 artists together from many nations across Australia and around the world and presents a durational two year program of experimental, site-specific, new work, engaging with the theme of everywhere all at oncehere. Such an enquiry is inherently intercultural and invites artistic engagement at the contemporary nexus between what might be called ‘the virtual and the grounded’, via a diverse program of durational projects embracing online technology, multiple media platforms and walking country.

Mildura is a diverse intercultural zone at the edge of the idea of disurbanity[i]; a powerful locus of intercultural contemporaneity that is capable of asking the key biennale question:

What does connection to country, groundedness and local identity mean in an age of globalization and technological revolution?

Contemporary notions of post-national world order are so replete with ambivalence, that the dissolution of any delimiting intercultural ‘palimpsest’ will rightly be resolute with doubt and belief. Yet, any starting point in the world is of course already ‘out of time’. Mildura Palimpsest Biennale #10 resists the persistent biennale model of a ‘temporary utopia’[ii] by inviting experimental and intercultural investigations into such post-national doubt and belief.

Engaging with diverse intercultural belief systems that are generated by the global convergence of international traditions, beliefs and technologies, and are breaking with global modernist timelines in meaningful ways, is arguably the central artistic challenge that defines our age.

For example, we can simultaneously recognize that contemporary knowledge about the continent of Australia and its place in the world has always been held by peoples from the hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations that have always lived here; and we can recognize that contemporary knowledge about the Australian continent is held amid its global intercultural hybridity, made up of every nationality on the planet, forming and reforming ‘Australia’ in perpetuity.

A globally significant dynamic exists between one of the most important sites of continuous human occupation in the world at Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area / Mungo National Park; local Indigenous nations the Latje Latje, Paakantji, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyaampaa peoples; and one of the most diverse local and migrant communities in the country, with over 65 international and 26 Indigenous languages spoken in Mildura. This distinctive cultural character is amplified by the visceral physical transition between the fertile yet liminal irrigated plains of Australia’s largest river and the desert country that stretches out on all sides to the great inland of the Australian continent.

At first glance therefore, the Mildura region is a palimpsest of the highest order, a diverse intercultural zone layered with ‘history’ and yet presumed to be off the beaten track of the international art world. However, Mildura is in fact an inland city that harbours a far more complex generative agency, with a significant experimental art legacy[iii], capable of interpolating the shifting ground of the contemporary international, from an inland southern hemisphere locus. Concurrently however, outmoded notions of exclusivity and non-transmutable locus are often too presumptuous. Without actively seeking non-hegemonic intercultural collaborative agency that is capable of recognizing anew the contemporary simultaneity of ancient knowledge and virtual reality, we remain at risk of Elysian delusion with regard to equitable intercultural discussion.

Imagine for a moment that ‘history’ itself is a delimiting concept; and that out of ‘history’ we can perhaps reconfigure the core element of intercultural contemporaneity; the notion that we can be everywhere all at oncehere. It is not for any one of us to know how or where such a collaborative journey might take us, but rather that we can be more open to how it might change us.

We invite you to join with the artists for the Mildura Palimpsest Biennale | Opening Long Weekend Experience; a rollicking four day journey of intercultural enquiry, artistic discussion and a rolling series of opening parties celebrating the culmination of this durational program.

Jonathan Kimberley
Mildura Palimpsest Biennale #10, 2015.

Arts Mildura acknowledges the contribution of former Co-Curator Helen Vivian up to 7 April 2015.

[i] Augustin Berque, Research on the history of disurbanity, EHESS/CNRS, Paris. berque [at] ehess [dot] fr, 2001.
[ii] Anthony Gardner and Charles Green, ‘Biennials of the South on the Edges of the Global’, Third Text, 27:4, (2013).
[iii] The Mildura Sculpture Triennials (1961-1988), revered predecessor of the Mildura Palimpsest Biennale (1998-2015), represented a significant shift in Australian contemporary art. Post 1970, with Tom McCullough as curator, the triennials became the most significant experimental, site-specific, interdisciplinary contemporary art events in Australia, coinciding with Christo’s The Wrapped Coast (1969) and preceding the first Biennale of Sydney (1973). As a result, Tom McCullough was curator of the second Biennale of Sydney (1976).