Zanny Begg These Stories Will be Different

Born in 1972 in Melbourne and now living in Bulli, near Sydney, Begg’s practice, which is often collaborative, incorporates film, drawing and installation, with a particular interest in exploring hidden or contested histories.

Once described as an advocate for women and marginalised communities, Zanny’s work uses humour, understated drawings and found cultural artefacts to explore themes of gender, activism and migration and the ways in which we can live and be in the world differently. This has included working with macro-political themes, such as globalisation protests, and in micro-political worlds, such as with children in prison.

This exhibition, curated by UNSW Galleries and designed for tour, brings together the artist’s most significant works to date including The Beehive (2018), City of Ladies (2017) and a new work Stories of Kannagi, (2019).



The Beehive is a non-linear experimental documentary exploring the unsolved murder of Sydney anti-development campaigner and glamorous style icon Juanita Nielsen in 1975.

Juanita Nielsen campaigned against the violent eviction of tenants in Kings Cross, who were being pushed out to make way for apartment blocks. Juanita disappeared on the 4th of July 1975. Her body has never been found, and her murderers never charged.

The Beehive consists of scripted fictions, documentary interviews and choreographed scenes with multiple actors playing the role of Juanita. The film is ever-changing, as a different combination of the footage is randomly selected for each screening with 1,344 possible variations.

The work presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of Juanita Nielsen and is an exploration of issues (and experiences) of corruption, housing justice, non-conventional lifestyles and gentrification then and now.

> View an excerpt of The Beehive HERE


The City of Ladies is a video installation comprised of semi-randomly generated fragments of a film made in collaboration with young activists and feminists in Paris. Each time the film is screened these fragments will compile in different ways creating over 300,000 possible narratives inviting multiple readings of feminism.

The project is inspired by the fifteenth century proto-feminist novel of the same name by France’s first professional female writer Christine de Pizan. The City of Ladies was written in 1402 and creates a utopian city built, populated and governed by women. de Pizan aimed to subvert masculine versions of history by describing, what she called, feminania, a pro-female view of the world.

This film premiered at the MCA, Sydney in The National 2017, and has since been exhibited at the Odessa Biennale, Ukraine; The Industrial Biennale, Croatia; rotor gallery, Gratz; “The Idea of the Avant-Garde”, NeMe, Cyprus; and My Life to Live, Nova Gallery, Zagreb.

The City of Ladies Excerpt from Zanny Begg on Vimeo.



Stories of Kannagi tells a story within a story: A young women’s struggle to save her husband from deportation and the 2000 year old story of the Goddess Kannagi’s troubled marriage. The two stories mirror each other before collapsing inwards in an exploration of love and forced migration.

Commissioned by STARTTS (Service for the Treatment And Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors) and created in collaboration with members of the Tamil community in Western Sydney. Stories of Kannagi will premiere, April 2020, in Salamanca Markets, Tasmania, in the exhibition Older Than Language. The project was funded by Australia Council for the Arts and STARTTS.

Read about Stories of Kannagi’s inclusion in the Blake Prize

Stories of Kannagi teaser from Zanny Begg on Vimeo.


Zanny Begg is an award-winning artist and film-maker whose work has been widely exhibited in Australia and around the world including in various biennials and exhibitions. She is the 2017 recipient of the inaugural ACMI and Artbank film commission, the 2016 winner of the Incinerator Art Award, Art for Social Change, and the 2016 winner of the Terrence and Lynnette Fern Cite Residency Paris and has been selected for the Melbourne International Film Festival, the Antenna Documentary Festival and Soho Film Festival (NY). She was included in the 2017 iteration of The National at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia with her collaborative work (with Elise Mcleod) The City of Ladies.

Zanny has a PhD in Art Theory and is a lecturer at UNSW Art + Design and is on the Artist Advisory Board for the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Zanny Begg’s website


Zanny Begg These Stories Will be Different is available to tour from 2021. The content of the exhibition is flexible and can be adapted to each venue depending on the size and installation restrictions of the venue. There is the option to expand the exhibition to include additional works, The Bullwhip Effect (2017) and 1001 Nights in Fairfield (2015).

To accompany the tour a publication edited and produced by UNSW Galleries on The Beehive and its social history stories will be available for sale. Supported by The City of Sydney, The Beehive publication will be edited by UNSW Galleries Director José Da Silva with contributions from art critics, historians and participants in the artwork. A comprehensive education resource with curricula links will be produced for the tour.

M&G NSW are seeking expressions of interest from galleries and art centres who would like to host the exhibition. Please contact us for more information:

Rachel Arndt
Gallery Programs & Touring Exhibitions Manager
t: 0439 383 899


A UNSW Galleries and Museums & Galleries of NSW touring exhibition