Wednesday, September 12, 2012

18th Biennale at AGNSW - 12 September

The beauty of the AGNSW is you can sneak over here at lunchtime and see quite a lot. Certainly much quicker than the schlep out to Cockatoo Island so it is surprising it has taken me until the last week to see this last part of the Biennale, which is a shame as I reckon the AGNSW's offerings were the best bits.

Things started of well with Jorge Macchi's Blue Planet. This is a small collage (what is it with collages at the moment? They are everywhere!) where he has pasted over all the landmass with more sea. It is out front as the title of this work was meant to inspire all the pieces in the AGNSW section. To me I thought they meant all the art would have water or seas or fluid in it, which a lot did although some works like the burning model house didn't really fit in with that narrative in my head so like most overly curated shows I stopped trying to think about any connecting theme and just went and had a look at the pretty pictures. The absolute standout highlight was in the second room. This was Guido van der Werve's video 'Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright' which was projected onto an entire wall (still from video above). This video ran for about a 16 minute loop and I nearly did 2 sittings. It was amazing. Some guy (I presume the artist) walks in front of this giant icebreaker in some remote gulf off Finland. The boat is going slow and he just keeps about the same pace with it, so always just enough out of harms way. It is very quiet except for the muffled noise of the ice breaking. I found it very calming and meditative. The gallery attendant (you should always ask questions of the gallery attendants as most of the time you get these completely honest appraisals of the art that would make the curator faint) also pointed out the dichotomy of the boat walking on ground (being the ice) and the man walking on water (in a sense). He thought it was a bit religious. Maybe. It was hard for anything else to stack up to this. Coming close was Bouchra Khalili's map prints where he does a white line map on blue background connecting illegal immigrant routes around the Mediterranean to look like maps of the constellations. He teams this with some great videos of a hand drawing the routes as narrated to them by an immigrant. Very SBS go back to where you came from. Also good were Juan Manuel Echavarria's wall of lenticular prints (those are the photos that change when you move them, very Easter showbag ruler circa 1985. why there aren't more lenticular prints in art galleries?) and Yuken Teruya's little sculptures made out of paper shopping bags, very delicate indeed.

Points: 3 to Guido van der Werve whose Nummer Acht video was amazing. I could've watched this all day and would love a copy of this, Guido let me know when this is available on DVD.  Region 4 please.  2 points to Jorge Macchi for his great collage, Blue Planet. 1 point will go to Bouchra Khalili for more good map work.

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