Leyla Stevens, GROH GOH (Rehearsal for Rangda) 2023 (video still), fibre, HD single channel video, surround sound, video duration 00:28:00. Courtesy of the artist.

TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili

Past Exhibitions
1 April - 16 July 2023

TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, curated by Dr Léuli Eshrāghi.

The TarraWarra Biennial, showing 1 April–16 July 2023, featured newly commissioned works by 15 artists/artist groups focused on the interconnectedness of the peoples of Australia, Asia and the Great Ocean.

We gather on Wurundjeri Country to immerse ourselves in cultural renaissances of the Majority World, connecting through fresh and salt waters to many parts of this planet. The title of the TarraWarra Biennial 2023, ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili, is an alagāʻupu, Sāmoan proverb, meaning ‘the canoe obeys the wind’. This saying calls attention to the contemporary revival of Great Ocean celestial navigation practices, which has been accompanied by waves of renewal of language, thought, movement and relationships. In this spirit, this exhibition affirms the principle of humility towards living beings and storied places, which in turn generates neighbourly exchanges and joyful futures.

TarraWarra Biennial 2023: ua usiusi faʻavaʻasavili gathered new commissions by artists, poets, makers, performers, archivists, scholars, weavers, painters, carvers, and filmmakers who live and work across Australia. In the works held first within these walls as well as in their wider œuvre, the commissioned artists maintain and strengthen indelible relationships and responsibilities to creation laws, ancestral estates, matrilineal practices, and material experimentation. This takes place within a wider context of transnational contestation, desperately needing sustained intersectional critique (Kimberlé Crenshaw) grounded in a Moana cosmopolitan imaginary (Lana Lopesi) that centres Indigenous sovereignties.

Most exhibitions framing the relationships between Australian society and surrounding archipelagos in south/southeast Asia and the south/southwest Great Ocean have focussed on continuing to sample and dabble in intercultural understanding. By any calendar measure, it is time for complex conversations to take place, so that the sublime aesthetic and intellectual practices born of these contexts may be deeply felt and understood.

The artists participating in TarraWarra Biennial 2023 are:
Regina Pilawuk Wilson (Ngan’gikurunggurr, Marrithyel); Vicki West (trawlwoolway); Sonja Carmichael (Quandamooka) and Elisa Jane Carmichael (Quandamooka); The Unbound Collective: Ali Gumillya Baker (Mirning), Faye Rosas Blanch (Mbararam, Yidinyji), Natalie Harkin (Narungga), Simone Ulalka Tur (Yankunytjatjara); Jenna Lee (Gulumerridjin, Wardaman, KarraJarri); Abdul-Rahman Abdullah; Hoda Afshar; Elyas Alavi; Torika Bolatagici; Dr Kirsten Lyttle (Tainui Waikato); Phuong Ngo; Bhenji Ra; David Sequeira; Sancintya Mohini Simpson; and Dr Leyla Stevens.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; and supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria; Creative Partnerships Australia through Plus1; and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

Further information


Ling Ang
Yashian Schauble 


Suzanne Halliday


Betty Alexopoulos 
Fiona Dunin 
Gus & Lyn Imberger  
Maria Danos  
Morris Low  
Sophie Gannon 
Tracy Clark 
Ying Ang 

Dr Léuli Eshrāghi is recognised globally for their expertise in Indigenous critical theory, curatorial practice and museology in service of Indigenous and other racialised communities.

Their academic achievements include the inaugural Horizon/Indigenous Futures Postdoctoral Fellowship, Concordia University (2021); Doctor of Philosophy in Curatorial Practice, Monash University (2019); Summer Indigenous Art Intensive, University of British Columbia Okanagan (2021, 2017); Indigenous Art Journal Residency, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (2017); Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Arts Management, University of Melbourne (2012); Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Melbourne (2009) and Bachelor of Arts, University of Queensland and Université Lyon II (2008). Dr Léuli Eshrāghi has realised new commissions for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, Sharjah Biennial 14, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center among other group and solo presentations in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and United States.

Eshrāghi has lectured at gatherings Creative Time, Hawaiʻi Contemporary Art Summit, Experimenter Curators’ Hub, March Meeting, Dhaka Art Summit, Pacific Arts Association, 24 May 2021 and Asia Pacific Triennial, as well as at universities in Antwerp, San Juan, Melbourne, Yogyakarta, Montreal, Honolulu, Auckland and Victoria. They contribute to growing international critical practice across the Great Ocean and North America through residencies, exhibitions, publications, teaching and rights advocacy.

The Saturday Paper ‘Léuli Eshrāghi’s TarraWarra Biennial draws on
subtlety and small gestures to privilege and celebrate the knowledge of the Majority
World. By Amelia Winata.

Ocula Magazine In-depth conversation between Dr Léuli Eshrāgi and writer and curator Rebecca Coates about the TarraWarra Biennial 2023. By Rebecca Coates.

Artshub. TarraWarra Biennial 2023: an experience of Indigenous-led relationships
TarraWarra Biennial 2023 offers an invitation that goes beyond the gallery walls. By Celina Lei.

Sydney Morning Herald. David Sequeira’s Indian heritage conjures a surprising celestial alignment in his installation for the TarraWarra Biennial. By Andrew Stephens.

The Art Guide 20 Questions: Leyla Stevens on history and centering ‘Bali’s witch widow matriarch’

Supported By

Exhibition Supporters

Thanks to Yarra Ranges Council

The Story Visit
Temporarily closed for exhibition installation. Open again 3 Aug