Sneak preview of the 18th Biennale of Sydney 2012: ‘all our relations’
This year’s biennale, which opens tomorrow, sees Sydney hosting works by more than 100 artists from around the world. They are being shown at some of Sydney’s best venues: Pier 2/3 in Walsh Bay, Cockatoo Island, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Carriageworks. The Biennale runs from June 27 until September 16, so there is no real excuse for not seeing something.
Today was the media preview of the Biennale, which I attended along with more than a hundred other members of the arts media. From what I saw, there is something at the Biennale for everyone, something to be a part of, to touch and to interact with.
The stand-out works were Peter Robinson’s ‘Gravitas Lite’ on Cockatoo Island, Liu Zhuoquan’s ‘Where are you?’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, and Nipan Oranniwesna’s ‘City of Ghosts’ as well as Yuken Teruya’s ‘Notice-Forest’ at the Art Gallery of NSW.
For me, the works in the Art Gallery of NSW came together best. Each room seemed to move beyond the individual pieces and create a greater atmosphere as a whole.
The preview began at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, with a talk by the two Biennale co-directors, Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster (this is the first time in Biennale’s history that there has been a co curatorial team).
Walking into the first room of the MCA to hear the co-directors speak, I faced a mirage of art lovers (the media). It probably won’t be like that when you visit, but their presence created a certain intrigue that filled the room: were we there to see the work or get the best story?
Listening to Catherine and Gerald speak, it was clear that their vision for this year’s Biennale was about coming together: multidisciplinary works that allow artists to cross boundaries, linking and collaborating, as well as allowing the audience to be a part of the work, to join in the conversation with their personal experience.
On the 3rd floor of the MCA there’s a collaborative work by two Korean artists, Park Young-Sook and Yeesookyung. Yeesookyung has taken 200 broken pieces of porcelain from Park Young-Sook’s failed pieces to produce a new life, ‘Translated Vase – The Moon’. In the same room are 12 of Park Young-Sook’s successful finished pieces, a collection of white vases called ‘Moon Jar’.
Liu Zhuoquan’s ‘Two-Headed Snake’ are hundreds of intricately painted bottles. At first glance it appears as if there are snakes curled up inside the bottles, but after reading the description you realise that the inside of each bottle has been individually painted to show snake skin pressing against the glass.
At Pier 2/3, there are over a thousand wind chimes hanging together from colourful ribbons. This is ‘Knock on the Sky Listen to the Sound’, the work of artist Tiffany Singh. This installation is only the beginning of Tiffany’s work. From August 7, the public can remove individual chimes and take them home to decorate, then take them to be hung at their second home at Cockatoo Island. At the end of the exhibition you’re free to collect your decorated chime for good.
Cockatoo Island has a wall of fog that you have to pass through – this is the work of Fujiko Nakaya. You have no general direction once you enter, you cannot see past a metre. So, you walk at a slow pace and hope for the best. Once through the fog, you’re in a very different scene: you’re in one of the island’s old factories and there is Western red desert sand in pattern forms along the foor (Cal Lane’s ‘Sand Lace’). Moving on from the sand, there’s a striking juxtaposition of heavy, rusting industrial machinery and light airy polystyrene chains and links. Welcome to Peter Robinson’s ‘Gravitas Lite’. His polystyrene installation engulfs the factory space and gives new meaning to the original machinery there.
Daan Roosegaarde’s ‘Dune’ in the Dog leg tunnel on Cockatoo Island needs the audience’s participation. The waist-high bed of optic fibres comes to life when it senses movement and noise. Your stillness is the work’s demise.
Finally, the Art Gallery of NSW has Yuken Teruya’s intricate work, ‘Notice-Forest’. These are delicate cut-outs created from paper bags, producing little 3D worlds for you to peer into. There is also a larger work by Nipan Oranniwesna: ‘City of Ghosts’. This is a captivating sculpture – Nipan has created a bird’s eye view of a miniature city. I felt that if you looked hard enough you may start seeing the city come to life.
Hope you enjoyed the preview, there are so many more works to see but this is just my run down of what I saw today. In the theme of the Biennale we have joined through conversation, I hope this inspires you.