March 21, 2014

There’s a strange hush over Sydney’s art world this morning, as everyone recovers from the official Opening Party of the Biennale last night. A couple of thousand people buzzed about the massive heritage industrial space at Technology Park, just behind Carriageworks in Everleigh. It seemed like every artist, every curator, gallerist, board member and their attendant glamour contingents were out in force in what was a massive people’s party of the arts. Ironically, not one artwork was on show – its as if the people themselves were the living installation. Oh, and the massively fabulous food, and music. The 19th Biennale is now officially launched – long live the Biennale!






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March 20, 2014

As part of the 19th Biennale of Sydney, last night the Museum of Contemporary Art opened its installation of twenty international artists spread out quite majestically over two levels. Eschewing conflict and strife, as it takes shape this Biennale seems more about the sublimely visual, those incontestable good vibes that speak to universal values of harmony, visual and otherwise. I loved Glaswegian artist, Jim Lambie’s vibrant ‘Zobop’ – a floor work constructed from multi-coloured masking tape that surreptitiously echoed the walls (and thus the boundaries) of the MCA. Another hit is undoubtedly Roni Horn’s very meditative ‘Ten Liquid Incidents’ that is an elegant followup to her almost obsessive photographic cataloguing of various waterways. Still, almost mutable, each sculptural glass ‘incident’ seems like a literally stopped moment in time. Sublime. And then there was Douglas Gordon’s gut-wrenching Phantom film installation. It seems simple enough – and intensely cropped close up of a kohl-rimmed eye projected behind …

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March 19, 2014

After a few weeks skiing in Europe it was fantastic to be back on the harbour yesterday, ferrying across to Cockatoo Island for the first installment of the 19th Biennale of Sydney. Under the banner ‘You Imagine What You Desire’ Artistic Director Juliana Engberg has done a terrific job of assembling a top-notch roster of international artists – the gaggle of accents on the crossing was testimony enough to that! And after a tough, controversial lead-up it was a relief to finally get out there amongst the art – where it counts. Callum Morton’s majestically tongue-in-cheek Google Ghost Train makes a big splash at the entrance, and kind of sets the tone for a biennale that is upbeat, iconoclastic and quite frankly, fun. I loved Swiss fitness fanatics, Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger’s ‘Meanwhile in the bush’ installation using redundant pieces of gym equipment, reconfiguring them with flowers, skeletons, branches and other ephemera – a great …

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March 12, 2014

The Alpine ski chalet is probably one of the most reconizable architectural tropes around. The steep pitch of the roof, the pronounced rafter overhang, the use of insulating massive stone blocks and roughly hewn timber. It’s also one of the most ecologically sound structures: everything is sourced locally – hence the change in material from region to region. Skiing Lech, Zürs and St Anton, I noticed that the traditional genre is being quite skillfully adapted to a more modern aesthetic. A more refined pitch, a more horizontal plan, timber shingles in place of rustic logs. One of the most inspiring of these featured a structural supporting wall extending beyond the plumb line – and filled with logs to be used in the open fireplaces. As the season continues, the log supply would become depleted, creating an ever-evolving sculpture. Those clever Austrians!

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