The 18th Biennale of Sydney has big shoes to fill following it’s 2010 predecessor, which saw the likes of Russian collective AES+F, legendary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and Australian talents like Brook Andrew and Daniel Crooks grace arguably Australia’s greatest art stage. If yesterday’s unveiling of this year’s program is anything to go by, we’re in for another treat for the senses. Never an event to rest on its laurels, the Biennale will assume a particularly fluid and collaborative guise in its 18th incarnation.
Running from June 27 to September 16 and helmed by new artistic directors Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster, the curatorial premise behind this year’s Biennale is that of ‘all our relations’ and will see over 100 Australian and international artists engage with issues surrounding our essentially borderless contemporary existence – “migration, contamination, corruption and coercion” – via creative modes of storytelling and conversation.
There are some clear standouts across the Biennale’s chief venues. One of 27 artists showing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Thai artist Nipan Oranniwesna’s installation City of Ghosts (2007) uses baby powder to plot 10 different mega-cities – including Sydney – and muse on the world’s fragile current state. At the newly redeveloped Museum of Contemporary Art, meanwhile, will see leading Korean artists Park Young-Sook and Yeesookyung collaborate to recreate and reconfigure broken ceramic works from Young-Sook’s Moon Jar series, and Indigenous Australian (Yolngu) artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu will present a constantly shifting animated light work, comprising a sequence of 110 paint-on-drawings.
Cockatoo Island – perhaps the jewel venue in the Biennale’s crown – will witness the extraordinary work of Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, whose artificial fog sculpture will ghost blanket a cliff-face on one side of the island, while leading Dutch artist Daan Roosengaarde’s Dune (2007–2011) – a vast interactive installation that reacts to viewers’ proximity and movements – will punctuate the island’s Dog Leg Tunnel.
Swapping household names for highly interactive and rigorous contemporary works, the 18th Biennale of Sydney looks set to be one of the strongest in years. As McMaster put it, “Audiences will experience involvement, responsiveness and liveliness when encountering the works and in many cases, will be active participants in the artists’ projects.”
The 18th Biennale of Sydney will run from June 27 to September 16, 2012.