Monday, August 9, 2010

More Cockatoo Island Pics

Image: Rodney Glick, from the "Everyone" series. The idea for the installation from this Perth based lecturer has its genesis in the medium of digitally manipulated imagery, drawing from popular Indian Hindu paintings. Every day people are presented in the symbolic poses of Hindu Gods, which are then carved by Balinese wood carvers.

Image: Isaac Julien, "Ten Thousand Waves" Installation view. This enormous installation of several screens in a large turbine hall, playing different images at different time sequences, was inspired by the tragic deaths of 10,000 Chinese illegal immigrant workers who drowned in England in 2004 while picking Cockles in Morecambe Bay. However, I didn't need the back story to be moved by a visully thrilling and poetic presentation that spoke to the heart and at a higher plane.

Image: Shen Shaomin, "Summit" 2010, installation View. This hypothetical meeting of the most significant communist leaders in a G8 type summit, arranges life sized corpses and death beds (Castro) in a pentagon-shaped installation. Hard not to laugh, whilst also being replused and in awe of the execution. There was also no option but to pass by the glass cabinets/coffins in what could be seen as a respectful silence, bringing up uncomfortable associations with our silence as we watched these people commit atrocities. A very clever and well communicated idea which worked on an experiential level.
Watching the reaction of the visitors was also insightful.

Image: Yang Fudong, "East of Que village" 2007. I don't usually get emotional looking at Fine Art Videos - except if you count boredom. However, the juxtaposition of a crippled pup, fighting for food and space (even against a rooster in the corner of a shed), with the documented "everyday" reality of the lives of villiagers from the same region, struggling in the same way, was incredibly moving in a beautifully understated way. It was also visually exceptional, in all it's black and white minimalism.

Image: Kader Attia, "Kasbah" 2010. This installation of shanty town roofs only accessed by visitors a few at a time and in single file, seems an obvious piece of communication, at first. However, the experience of walking across these roofs, on a given boarded pat, brought to crashingly to view the fact that many people in the world live and move like this on a daily basis. There was no wandering and wondering about it's visual beauty - the imagination was fully focused on the possible lives of the people who could live in this manner, and their ability to eek an existence from almost nothing.

Again, from my iphone, a selection of the best visuals from a really good Sydney Biennale (not that I'm biased).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cockatoo Island-Biennale

Images, Top to bottom:Choi Jeong Hwa, (installation); Daniel Crooks, "Static no 12" (video still); Cai Guo-Qiang, "Inopportune: Stage one"; Dale Frank "the River" ; AES&F "the Feast of Trimalchio (video still);
Thought that the videos here were of exceptionally high quality - and definitely outgunned the wall art. However, I thought Dale Franks' work was well-sited and impressive (despite artist friends saying the opposite, but I didn't read the blurb, just let my eye wander, so wasn't annoyed by an apparently BullSh*t doctrine on the paintings).
Hers' some pics (taken on my iPhone, sorry).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Bouquet for Biennale of SYDNEY

Images,Top to Bottom: Nandipha Mntambo, Meditations on Solitude; Kent Monkman "the Death of Adonis" 2009; Claudio Dicochea "dr Slayer y vampiro" 2009; and David Noonan, "Two Moons" 2009-10

OK, I know it's a little after the fact, but I did want to share that I thought this latest Biennale of Sydney was a ripper. I enjoyed every floor of the MCA exhibition, the paintings and sculptures most of all. The joy of discovering Louise Bourgeoise's works, especially "Echo VII" -in person, live and uninhibited, (and virtually "unannounced") was only rivaled by some superb work by Nandipha Mntambo, a Swaziland artist whose Animal skin sculptures moulded by, and leaving the traces of, human occupancy (such as "Meditations on Solitude") were quite breathtaking- beautiful, tactile, inviting (and slightly repulsive), thought provoking and having such "lift" that their presence was equally balanced by their ethereal nature. I am absolutely intrigued by the technique used which makes her work appear that the artist has just stepped out from behind the rug and turned invisible.

The small quirky cardboard sculptures by Jake and Dinos Chapman, installed in their hundreds and articulating many of the every day rituals of humans (have you ever seen two cardboard figures having sex?), were delightful and funny as well as a little shocking ("Two faced C...t" being an example).

It was great to see painting alive and well and occupying enough space on the "cutting edge" to gain attention. David Noonan's works, comprised of screen prints, collage and paintings, use scale and the mix of techniques to an impressive advantage inviting a curiousity about his mix of subject matter, art references and even cultures. Seemingly simple in their monochromatic execution on rough, sack like material, the paintings invite a completion of the narrative from the viewer and evoke a broody, almost nostalgic contemplation. Penny Siopis' works such as "Ambush," using oil paint, viscous glue and liquid paint, apparently deal with "the fragility and vulnerability of human experience in a political context" -are strongly erotic and to me, evoke Edo Art in a more sensuous, modern way. Swathes of blood red and fleshy pinks are beautiful at first glance and from a distance, but evoke the entanglement of an octopus and almost suffocation at closer inspection. Strong in presence and in execution.
I also enjoyed the freshness of the Mexican artist, Claudio Diocochea's mix of pop and historical images ("Dr Slayer y Vampiro Lobita") and Kent Monkman's take on the American West genre and Imperialist Romantic Art, again, huge in scale and superbly executed.
The videos here, unlike at the Cockatoo Island location for the Biennale, were totally out gunned by the more traditional arts. It looks like painting and sculpture, and "artistic skills" are back in fashion!


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