From Sharne Wolff…
In Finite Blue Planet is the subtitle of the Biennale at the Art Gallery of NSW. The ‘global’ theme was apparently inspired by a small work made in 2003 by Argentinean artist Jorge Macchi entitled Blue Planet, a circular paper collage depicting a world map devoid of land mass. Unlike the last Biennale in 2010, themes chosen at each venue are coherent, if not a little overworked. On the other hand, the evident curatorial narrative makes the exhibitions more accessible for audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
Cartophiles will be intrigued by this display. Along with more of Macchi’s map works is Nipan Oranniwesna’s City of Ghost, an entire city randomly composed with map stencils and baby powder is displayed horizontally on an elevated platform. The juxtaposition of Dorothy Napangardi’s Sandhills and Untitled (2004) on the opposite wall works brilliantly.
Two digital video works capture a mixture of impending doom and environmental catastrophe contrasted with hopeful titles. Everything is going to be all right by Guido van der Werve is an engrossing 10-minute film of a man who walks slowly on an ice platform. Immediately behind him, and providing the drama, an enormous icebreaker carves its way toward him. Steadfast by Phil Hastings stretches 30 seconds of pounding waves on Lake Erie into a powerful and hypnotic 7-minute slo-mo. On the same floor, Notice Forest and Constellation are stunning reinventions of the lux paper shopping bag in the form of tiny trees and accidental galaxies by Yuken Teruya. Both are bound to be crowd pleasers.
The Yiribana Gallery on the lower floor of the Gallery is the only likely position for the Postcommodity Indigenous collective’s installation Do You Remember When 2009-12. A large square hole has been cut from the concrete floor of the Gallery to (symbolically) expose the soil beneath. The removed block both represents and critiques the Western cultural institution from which it was cut. It sits solid and upright on a pedestal behind the opening. The installation is accompanied by a soundtrack, which appears to emanate from the hole, while a microphone captures the rhythm of Sydney’s beating Indigenous heart and reclaim the space. The artists, guests in Australia, have attempted to recreate a previous work originally situate in Arizona using the same themes of sustainability and ‘place’ but with respect to it’s new situation. As one local artist was overheard to say, “I would’ve loved to have been at the meeting when they gave the go ahead on that one”.
Until September 16
Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Domain
Pic: Guido Van der Werve, Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright, 2007. 16mm film transferred to digital video file, 10:10 mins Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York.