Biennale of Sydney 2012 Highlights Revealed

Highlights of the 18th Biennale of Sydney – Australia’s largest and most respected contemporary visual arts event – have today been revealed

The Biennale will present works by more than 100 artists hailing from Australia, New Zealand, Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East, with nearly half the creating specifically for this exhibition, including many substantial collaborative installations.

Marah Braye, Chief Executive Officer of Biennale of Sydney, commented: ‘In 2012 we celebrate our 39th anniversary, making the Biennale of Sydney one of the longest running biennales in the world. We look forward to welcoming both new and returning audiences to this incredible event.’

Co-Artistic Director Gerald McMaster said: ‘[we] have brought together more than 100 artists with a sense that there would be commonalities amongst great differences. This Biennale has its roots in conversation and storytelling. The many projects presented can be compared to a set of storylines, to which artists, curators and audiences relate and translate in a continuous process of meaning-making.’

Co-Artistic Director Catherine de Zegher said: ‘the larger stories of the 18th Biennale of Sydney directly address current local and global issues, such as migration, contamination, corruption and coercion. The artists present these important concerns around the world in a way related to all our senses, rather than in the negative and critical way we have become accustomed to. They share a sense of compassion, empathy and drive for change. Their art works inspire deep engagement and consideration, and over time will hopefully give people possible ways forward. This concerns a direct response to the state of the world.

Four of Sydney’s leading cultural institutions and heritage sites are major venues for the exhibition: the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the newly redeveloped Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), Pier 2/3 and Cockatoo Island.

Highlights from the 18th Biennale of Sydney include:

Thai artist Nipan Oranniwesna explores the fragility of contemporary society with City of Ghost (2012), a site-specific installation made from baby-powder. The work presents an assemblage of maps from ten different megapolis, including Sydney. This sprawling cityscape evokes the precarious nature of our world in the twenty-first century.

Beijing-based artist Gao Rong will create a life-sized sculptural replica of her grandparent’s living room. Using embroidery in a contemporary application, Gao presents reconstructions of everyday domestic items and tableaus.

Interdisciplinary arts collective Postcommodity, comprised of four Native American artists, will cut a hole into the floor of the Yiribana Gallery to recreate their work Do You Remember When? (2009). The hole reveals the earth below, symbolising a spiritual, cultural and physical portal, and a point of transformation between worlds. As part of this work, Postcommodity will collaborate with Aboriginal language speakers in New South Wales to create a sound component.

Korean artists Park Young-Sook (Moon Jar, 2012) and Yeesookyung (Translated Vase-the moon, 2012) will each present a work. Their project begins with the ceramic remains of Park Young-Sook’s imperfect moon jars. Yeesookyung then revives the broken ceramic fragments, arranging them into a new unified work, taking what is broken and discarded and remaking it anew.

Indigenous Australian (Yolngu) artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu from Yirrkala in north-east Arnhem Land will exhibit an animated light series, Light Painting (2011). The work, in constant transformation, is a projection taken from a set of 110 drawings created in white-paint pen on clear acetates. Yunupingu is one of seven Indigenous Australian artists, of 19 Australian artists, presented in the 18th Biennale of Sydney.

Belgian artist Honoré d’O will realise a large-scale interactive paper installation, Air and Inner (2012). Created from trivial but practical materials, prompting small shifts in perception and response to the everyday, the work also gives audiences an active, creative role.

New Zealand-born artist Tiffany Singh invites visitors to decorate 1000 wind chimes and transport them to Cockatoo Island. There, they will be reinstalled as a collaborative work with the public.

Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde will present Dune (2007–11), a large-scale installation that behaves as an interactive landscape. A hybrid of nature and technology, the sculpture visibly reacts to the behaviour of people who come within close proximity.

Indigenous Australian (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi) Jonathan Jones will create a shell midden from oyster shells and broken teacups, highlighting Sydney’s historical links with Aboriginal culture. Jones will also present a fluorescent light installation inside another tunnel on Cockatoo Island, creating an immersive sensory experience.

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