Saturday, 4 August 2012

Alex in Australia: Sydney Biennale

A few weeks back myself and friends visited the 18th Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island on Sydney's harbour. The event is a three month long exhibition of varied pieces of art scattered around the abandoned ex-prison/boatyard/workshops of the island. The venue in itself is a fascinating place to wander and the art was a welcomed addition.

The island houses many large warehouses with vast amounts of space to work with. Therefore most of the art is on a grand scale. Below are 3 of my favourite pieces.

The first is 'Gravitas Lite' by Peter Robinson. He uses Polystyrene in most of his work and in this case built  chains, cogs and machinery providing a strange contradiction in material to the real metal structures surrounding it. The detail and intricacies are pretty spectacular and the general size is amazing.

The second piece is by Cal Lane called Domesticated Turf. A slightly left field exhibition comprising of stencilled persian rugs made from outback sand. The rugs lead to a freight container that has been cut out in an almost rob ryan manner. The piece is situated in the largest room of the main warehouse area which, adding to the grandeur. In honesty it wasn't all my cup of tea, but the rugs were very interesting! Again an odd contrast in materials, from the delicate lace of the rugs to the metal of the container.
'I like to work as a visual devil’s advocate, using contradiction as a vehicle for finding my way to an empathetic image, an image of opposition that creates a balance, as well as a clash, by comparing and contrasting ideas and materials'

And finally my favourite installment is Ocean of Flowers by Li Hongbo. The work is situated in one of the buildings at the top level of Cockatoo Island. At first it comes across as a field of colour...amazing papercraft but not much else. As you walk to the back of the room the exhibition is explained. Each rolled out piece of paper is infact a gun or weapon when put back together. Giving you a completely different perspective as you leave.

'Over the past few years, Li Hongbo has been gluing piles of paper together. Ocean of Flowers begins with the honeycomb technique carved into forms resembling weapons that he twirls into new ‘flower shapes’. With the global proliferation of weapons – the utopian ideals of the 1950s in China, or the 1970s elsewhere, seem so long ago and forgotten'

Cockatoo Island is a fantastic place and well worth a visit. It was a good day and interesting to see the different works in such a fascinating place. In October there should be another exhibition called Outpost, which has more of a street art vibe to it. I visited last year and probably preferred it slightly. Keep posted for that review!

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