I’ve just returned from my lunch break. Despite deliberately trying to avoid previewing the 18th Biennale of Sydney exhibition at the MCA (I have plans to see it later this week with a friend), I ended up walking through the museum, and then into the exhibition.
I thought perhaps I could provide my avid readers (!) with some quick insights into one of Australia’s biggest art events. I was clearly not the only one. While at the Venice Biennale I first noted with disdain the growing trend of experiencing art second hand – through cameras and videos. No longer are art lovers content to browse art at their leisure, savouring the object and text at that moment in time. Contemporary art lovers rush through exhibitions, photograph everything, including wall texts, without actually stopping to contemplate the image. They record but don’t absorb. [My excuse is that rushed for time and I wanted photos for this post!]
Could this be the fault of information overload, made possible by the internet, smart phones, wifi etc? Or perhaps growing resources for the arts? The Biennale of Sydney is spread over several locations: Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art, Pier 2/3, Cockatoo Island, Carriageworks – not to mention events at City Recital Hall, Kings Cross Hotel, White Rabbit Gallery, and University of Sydney! There are more than 100 artists from over 40 countries. The extended exhibition period (27 June – 16 September) allows viewers time to experience the Biennale at their leisure, but I did feel (as I have at previous Biennales) a sense of anxiety about missing out on the significance of each piece.
Titled all our relations, the Biennale attempts to integrate artists from around the world, demonstrating a shift from the Rich White Male approach to art. At the MCA there were artists (unknown to me) from Thailand, South Korea, South Africa, Ghana, Indigenous Australia, India. The list goes on. Perhaps this also contributes to the information overload- each artwork is by a different artist, from a different country, with a different culture and different story to tell. Typical of all Biennales, the 18th Biennale of Sydney is overflowing with exciting, interactive artworks, providing insights into the lives of ‘all our relations’.
Now for the highlights of my rushed encounter.
Alwar Balasubramaniam, Nothing From My Hands, 2011.
Hard to describe… These sculptures created the effect of someone trying to escape through the wall. Created an extension of the wall and questioned the notion of the ‘art object’.
David Aspden, Zahir, 1971.
El Anatsui, Anonymous Creature, 2009.
Liang Quan, Ancestor’s Sea, 2010. Image courtesy of BOS website.
Yeesookyung, Translated Vase-the-Moon, 2012
More on Biennale of Sydney, Cockatoo Island here