Thursday, June 28, 2012

Biennale of Sydney

Yesterday I visited the 18th Biennale of Sydney, the festival of contemporary art held on Cockatoo island in Sydney Harbour.  The island used to be a prison for convicts and then a dockyard for shipbuilding and repair, but now the disused warehouse buildings will house the works of art from all round the world until the middle of September.

We got there by ferry laid on free during the festival and then wandered around the exhibits, some of which had live performance art going on.  I could have well avoided the 'performance art' (cutting strips of paper with sound amplified scissors for half an's too short) but some of the static installations were amazing.  My favourite was Hylozoic series 2011 by Philip Beesley.

 It was made largely from plastic with light bulbs and a whole array of robotics and movement sensors so that as you walked through it these feather-like arrangements fluttered and lit up.

The shadows on the stone walls were amazing on their own.

My son loved Ocean of Flowers 2012 by Li Hongbo, a huge floor full of colourful paper decorations, the kind that open up like honecomb lanterns.

Reason he thought they were cool?  Many of the shapes derived from AK-47 machine gun lanterns!

Quite a few had a textile theme but somehow they didn't jump out at me - maybe I'd seen the inspiration /story quoted before and it left me a bit cold.
One I did like however was Stitching time by Erin Manning, a floor sized textile proposition, a giant sewing circle in which to become involved.  Colour coordinated fabrics many sheers, with embellishments like buttons and buttonholes added were hung all over the space and gave great colourful shadows in the sun. The sheer scale of the piece did it for me.
We were invited to participate as we felt but alas it reminded me too much of the pile of ironing I had waiting at home!

and my son felt we'd never get home if I got a needle and thread in my hand - he knows me too well!

The Bienniale is on until 16 Sept 2012, and you can catch a ferry from Circular Quay every half hour.

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