Fremantle Biennale announces participating artists and program for CROSSING 21

Design / Life

Today, the Fremantle Biennale announced the program for the third iteration of the site-responsive art festival, which will run from 5 – 21 November 2021.

With the title CROSSING 21, the event will explore Walyalup’s (Fremantle’s) intrinsic past and present relationship with the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River). Close attention will be paid to acknowledge and explore First Nations histories with the culturally and spiritually significant estuary – its main venues situated along the waterway of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people.

Tracing the shores of the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) from Walyalup (Fremantle) to Dyoondalup (Point Walter), a focus of activity will take place between the two iconic Walyalup (Fremantle) bridges.

Inspiring the theme for CROSSING 21 is a seminal event that took place over one hundred years ago. At the mouth of the bilya (river) a sandstone tidal land bridge once existed which served as a natural crossing used by the Whadjuk people for safe passage, ritual and ceremonial practices. This rocky bar was blasted away by Chief Engineer C Y O’Connor to make way for the ever-growing Swan River colony in 1892.

Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Fremantle Biennale Tom Mùller commented that the event altered the course of history, causing disruption of a harmonious balance and tidal rhythm between ocean, river and people that had existed for millennia.

“Colonial-settlers arrived and disrupted an ancient and carefully managed equilibrium that began when time itself was dreamed up – a time when keepers of Katitjin (knowledge) cared for Country in such a way that everything was one.”

With the historic Fremantle Traffic Bridge currently being redesigned, the location is of particular interest and under close scrutiny by local residents and the City of Fremantle.

The program of participants for the third edition Fremantle Biennale hail from all corners of visual and performance arts, but this year the curatorial team have invited participation from its largest ever collective of First Nations and non-Indigenous West Australian artists.

CROSSING 21 will be articulated through a series of 18 immersive, large-scale, site-responsive artworks and performances, each aiming to facilitate new conversations and share collective stories. 15 of the 18 artworks and performances will be presented in part or in full by West Australian artists and collectives.

The event will champion emerging digital mediums including Australia’s largest ever drone light demonstration which will see a fleet of 160 drones take flight over the bilya (river) and wardan (ocean).

Drone light show c.Studio Drift. Art Basel Miami Beach. Image courtesy of the artists







The headline work Moombaki – led by emerging Nyoongar artist Ilona McGuire & Elders and supported by the Minderoo Foundation, the Australian Government’s RISE fund, and Global Unmanned Systems (GUS) – will be a first of its kind show to be presented in Western Australia. An epic spectacle of light, movement and sound will transform the night sky, pioneering new sustainable technologies to tell ancient and living stories of place.

Mùller said the biennial festival of site-responsive contemporary art aims to reveal, interrogate, and celebrate the cultural, social and historical distinctiveness of the Fremantle area, while making art openly accessible for all.

“In a time of health, social, economic, and environmental crisis, CROSSING 21 looks to art as a form of connection. The Fremantle Biennale is free for all to attend and enjoy. It is an occasion for you to experience innovative, thought-provoking contemporary artwork set against some of Fremantle’s most iconic locations. Through a series of site-responsive artworks informed by co-design and collaboration, we hope to create tangible opportunities for new ideas, for history to be re-examined and for change to start to emerge.”

The programme of participating artists and works for the Fremantle Biennale 2021 are:


Orange Path 

Perhaps WA’s longest artwork and one of AC4CA’s most ambitious projects to date, a 500-metre walkable geometric painted pathway will unfold in November, tracing the shoreline of the Derbarl Yerrigan to connect Fremantle’s two bridges.

Alexander Boynes, Mandy Martin, Tristen Parr

Step Change

The third and final work in a collaborative series, Step Change is a large-scale visual, video and sound work that explores the urgent need to transition in the age of climate crisis.

Amrita Hepi

Amrita Hepi Outside In image

Outside In

Taking cues from Nyoongar Radio’s popular Inside Out, artist and choreographer Amrita Hepi has set up an international hotline for dedications and song requests for a loved one you are missing. Collected dedications will be re-danced in a continuous tribute, audio and dance work.



Andrew Sunley Smith


A poetic and absurd gesture to our era of excess, instability and oppression, Overload will see a partially submerged, marooned vessel occupying an expanse of water beneath Fremantle’s Traffic Bridge. Excessively loaded with local limestone rock spall, the sunken vessel is designed as a symbol of commerce and export.

Bruno Booth

Tightness Times Toughness (TxT)

Echoing the proportions of the Fremantle traffic bridges and the deepest channel of the river, TxT is a major new participatory installation. Audiences are invited to navigate the corridors, to experience moments of crossing: where one place becomes another, where a moment lapses into the next, and where a person is remade by their experiences.

Clint Bracknell, Callum G’Froerer (composers) and Trevor Ryan (choreographer)


Drawing on the Nyoongar bull shark song performance developed by Bracknell and Ryan, and first presented in Perth Festival 2021 with the Mayakeniny dance group, Bullhorn is a powerful collaboration of music, dance, song and experimental performance.

Cara Teusner-Gartland, Daniel Jan Martin and Sandra Harben | Kepa Kalya Koorl


Immerse yourself in glowing and moving springs of light and sound, mapped into the space of the Old Customs House. Inviting awe and curiosity, this commission connects to water through a deep acknowledgement of place.


Paul Iskov & Dale Tilbrook, Fervor Dinner. c – Duncan Wright


Hosting unique dinners in spectacular locations around Australia, the pop-up restaurant returns to Fremantle for an unforgettable dining experience with native food expert and cook Dale Tilbrook. Quandong, bloodroot, marron and wattle will take centre stage in a multi-course dinner, celebrating the native foods of the Walyalup waterways and WA.





HIP Company

Meeting Place

Inspired by stories of crossing, European Baroque music, including songs, opera arias and instrumental chamber music, will be heard alongside the sounds and music belonging to this land and the Whadjuk Nyoongar people.

Ilona McGuire & Elders


An epic spectacle of light, movement and sound will transform the night sky. The Nyoongar word for ‘where the river meets the sky’, Moombaki is a choreographed drone light show re-creating the first stories of Whadjuk Nyoongar Country for all to experience.

Jazz Money

These Words will Remain

Strung across the wooden pillars of Fremantle’s iconic old bridge, large-scale text pieces in English and Nyoongar invite audiences to consider the strength and beauty of these sovereign Whadjuk waterways.

Jessee Lee Johns, Rohin Kickett, Jacob Diamond

The Commonwealth of New Bayswater

The Commonwealth of New Bayswater will be opening its borders for the duration of the festival. The small, ephemeral nation made up of a collection of quasi-functional territories will be offering single entry tourist visas to travelers from all over the world.

Katie West

Sunrise Sunset

Two shelters by the Derbarl Yerrigan shifting between the shelter in east at sunrise, and the shelter in the west at sunset. Visitors are invited to take a moment of pause, to witness fluctuating tides, the movement of people and the passing of time.

Loren Kronemyer

Millenial Reaper

Artist Loren Kronemyer attempts to make a broom from scratch. By following the journey from raw material to finished object, audiences are invited to uncover the complex international, intergenerational and interspecies echoes that live inside everyday things.

Maitland Schnaars, Brooke Leeder & Dancers with Ian Wilkes, Humphrey Bower, Azariah Felton.

A Blessed Curse

This dance theatre work is based on the Indigenous curse of CY O’Connor, that sent him mad and drove to him to his death. But this story has a twist, that this was not in fact a curse – but a blessing. This work merges both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal stories and fin expression in movement, sound, language and Country, creating a visceral experience and a window to the stories of our past.

Nathan John Thompson


Transitions makes visible the unseen sonic movements, histories and environments within the Plympton Pumphouse building, a remanent of a brewery from the early 1900s.

Penhale & Winter in collaboration with Sandra Harben

Gathering Place

An invitation to sit and spend time in one of the city’s forgotten public spaces, the architectural form provides a space for people to gather, to engage in conversation or relax in reflection of the immediate area, amongst the ebb and flow of changing rhythms.

Rachael Dease (composer) & Tim Collins (sound designer)


Vespers is a sound, music and performance piece imagined for and carried across the river. At once performers, orchestra and dancers, this small floating chorus of yachts will travel downstream at sunset, drifting with song to a waiting audience.

The third iteration of the Fremantle Biennale will be presented from Friday, 5 November to Sunday, 21 November 2021. The event is free to attend with some ticketed performances and events.

Further information can be found at: