From Andrew Frost…
After recent outings for the Biennale of Sydney where it seemed that the Art Gallery of NSW was no longer a major venue, the 19th BoS finds the venerable institution giving over the entirety of its Lower Ground floor to the show where it features the work of 17 artists. Indeed, there’s a lot to see and experience as BoS curator Juliana Engberg’s selection continues the same formal interests as the work at Cockatoo Island and the MCA with an emphasis on surrealism, poetry and the beautiful in photo media, video, performance art and installation.
Among the highlights of the video works at the AGNSW is Angelica Mesiti’s In The Ear of the Tyrant, a multichannel work featuring a performance of a prefiche – a professional female mourner who accompanies a funeral procession – set in an ambiguous although apparently ancient indoor setting. Bindi Cole’s We All Need Forgiveness eschews all theatrical trappings for a video installation featuring faces intoning, “I forgive you… I forgive you….” More abstract but as compelling is Rosa Barba’s Time As Perspective, a film loop installation that meditates on the material qualities of film and the landscape. Deborah Kelly’s No Human Being is Illegal [In All Our Glory] is a stunning series of life size photo collages that morph and evolve over the course of the show, while Mircea Cantor’s Sic Transit Gloria Mundi achieves a poetic and lyrical presence through the meeting of flame and flesh.
Carriageworks makes its debut as a BoS venue in 2014 and the installation of 12 major works in the new gallery space – as well as a 16 hour program of films and videos in a cinema setting by a further 12 artists – makes it a singular experience. The undoubted highlight of Carriageworks is Mathias Poledna’s A Village By The Sea, a recreation of an early movie musical number shown on 35mm film and presented inside a monumental black box. While Poledna’s work becomes a kind of disturbing cinematic uncanny, other more intimate pieces offer equally strange contemplation, such as in Ann Lislegaard’s talking fox in Tim Machine, and in Soren Thilo Funder’s eerie space age homage The Cosmonaut (I Don’t See Any God Up Here). Daniel McKewen’s Running Men offers the viewer the images of men running lifted from various Hollywood movies. Floating in the darkness of Carriageworks the piece takes on an almost religious flavour.
Finally, Artspace in Woolloomooloo scales back its participation in BoS this time around with the work of just five artists but places the emphasis on hypnotic minimalism and repetition, including Ugo Rondinone’s cast bronze birds in the The Cliff and Sol Archer’s video Black Sun.
Until June 9
Pic: Mathias Poledna,?A Village by the Sea, 2011 (35mm frame enlargement)?35mm film, 5:40 mins, black and white, optical sound?Courtesy the artist; Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne and Berlin; Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna; and Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles.