Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 25 Winter 2010 Contents 70 INSITE WINTER
A NEW WORLD VIEW
Indulge in the 17th Biennale of Sydney,
which goes by the title e Beauty of
Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious
Age, and explores two profound themes.
When the first Biennale of Sydney opened in
1973, it was one of three international survey
exhibitions of contemporary art in the world.
Today, there are scores of similar exhibitions
fighting for a slot in the international arts
calendar, each seemingly cherry-picking
successes from the recent Venice, Gwangju or
Istanbul biennales and fighting to grab a-list
artists who attract global audiences.
To maintain Sydney's place on the ladder,
director David Elliott has pulled out all the
stops, with a huge list of artists and a theme,
e Beauty of Distance, which celebrates what
for many seems our greatest disadvantage:
our distance from the centres of Western
culture. Rather than see this as a flaw, David
believes it gives us space to be ourselves.
Many Australian artists will be exhibiting
beside international creators at venues
around the harbour. David says this biennale
brings together "work from diverse cultures,
at the same time, on the equal playing field
of contemporary art, where no culture can
assume superiority over any other".
e biennale's subtitle, Songs of Survival in
a Precarious Age, explores the positive power
of art in the face of unprecedented threats
of conflict, famine, inequity, environmental
degradation and global warming.
Fifty artists will exhibit on Cockatoo Island,
a venue first used during the last Sydney
Biennale. Its vast industrial buildings,
history as a prison and location in the middle
of the harbour make it a unique place to
view contemporary art. An installation by
Chinese-born, New York-based artist Cai
Guo-Qiang will dominate the vast Turbine
Hall: nine cars exploding and rotating through
space, the beauty and horror of destruction.
Also on the island, music act Tiger Lillies
will premiere a new post-punk, neo-Brechtian
opera, Cockatoo Prison, about crimes and
society's attitude towards them.
Highly anticipated is a digitally animated
panorama by Moscow-based group AES+F
depicting e Feast of Trimalchio from the
Satyricon by Roman author Gaius Petronius.
It explores how the West controls resources
by demanding that everything is for sale.
Meanwhile, Australian artist Brook Andrew's
Jumping Castle War Memorial is an inflatable
structure with a heroic figure at its core,
decorated with a pattern based on traditional
Wiradjuri designs of Andrew's people.
Overall, the art tackles the big issues of
our time: as David says, "art can reflect the
sweetest or strongest of emotions, it can also
express the most traumatic events but, unlike
life, nobody gets hurt".
Until August 1, Art Gallery of New South
Wales, Cockatoo Island, Pier 2/3, Museum
of Contemporary Art, Sydney Opera House,
Artspace and Royal Botanic Gardens. Visit
Arts identity Ted Snell previews the best exhibitions throughout Australia and the world.
Martyn Jacques of the Tiger Lillies in the
musical Cockatoo Prison. TOP Inopportune:
Stage One, by Cai Guo-Qiang.
Photography Frederic Domont (Tiger Lillies)
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