Believe it or not it was down to pure luck that our big Sydney adventure coincided with the opening weekend of the 2012 Sydney Biennale. I am very thankful that the stars aligned, as it was one really impressive festival, getting me excited (and relatively nervous) about our upcoming installation in September.

Situated partially at the newly renovated MCA it gave me a great opportunity to wander around and marvel in what is a very thoughtful alteration to the heritage building. The main site for the festival, however, unfortunately surpassed the MCA’s beauty and wow factor ten fold.

Cockatoo Island, the former convict prision then shipyard, is a site full of history, abandonment and all things industrially fantastical! The Island alone is an amazing place to visit (and one definitely not to miss if you are in the harbour area), but when teamed with large scale installations the place really comes alive. You really feel part of something big and exciting.

For today’s posts I’ve decided to pick out a few of the artworks that really caught my eye. Their technical execution and material choices really inspired me in my quest  for Geyser motivations:

‘Ocean’s of Flowers’ by Li Hongbos from first sight is a coloured landscape of perceived happiness. Hand made over the course of many years its detail, vibrancy and blurring makes you instantly want to get in and explore. Its not until you reach the back and are able to play with and pick up his objects that you realise that the objects themselves are something more sinister. When unfolded the paper reveals its true shape, that of guns and bullets. It leaves you wanting to understand more about the intent and the artist himself.

The ‘flower’ in my work looks so bright and grandstanding, whether people can really comprehend the damage hidden behind it” (Li Hongbos).

{above} The big boiler shed was one of the first areas we entered on site and it set the scene remarkably for what would follow. Here numerous large scale white installations juxtaposed and intertwined with the rusted industrial landscapes they inhabited.

Peter Robinson‘s installation worked solely with polystyrene and the existing condition. It manipulated scale and perception through ‘presenting contradictions in weight and strength’.  This understanding of context and audience view lines made for a very successful insertion, however I would have loved to be able to get closer to the artwork.

Monika Grzymala and Euraba Artists and Papermakers also created an artwork with strong relationships to site and explored a beautiful range of lightweight materials. They focused on the notion of the line, in both our physical and mental environments. It was an enticing intervention to be immersed in.

Phillip Beesley‘s Hylozoic Series would have to be one of my favourites for the day.

It is described on the Biennale website as:

… an interdisciplinary body of work that integrates lightweight, digitally fabricated textile structures and interactive microprocessor technology (sensors, LEDs, shape memory alloy). These projects are a hybrid of sculpture, engineering, experimental chemistry and architecture. Working with the concept of hylozoism – the belief that all matter in the universe has a life of its own – Beesley creates interactive environments that respond to the actions of the audience, offering a vision of how buildings in the future might move, think and feel. 

It was, in the most simplest of terms precisely what we hope to explore in Geyser. A space of beauty, exceptional execution and interaction that allows for the audience to be truly part of the experience. It takes an overriding notion and directly applies it to the world of Architecture.

{above} Light played a major part in most of the projects through out the Biennale as a lot of the spaces were quite dark and dank. The use of Fluorescent lights in a variety of contexts was popular and tapped into the industrial heritage of site. When concentrated in high density, flickering and also in isolation they all achieved different intentions and was hard to determine a favourite.

The final image I will end this epic post on is a project by Ricardo LanzariniWhat I really appreciated about his work was the shift in scale. Rather than large grandiose material gestures Ricardo simply and immaculately drew around the four corners of his allocated room. “When I start to draw, these representations are not pretended, they just happen”. Whilst his material choice is simple his intention and motivations are not. He should not be overlooked.

The Biennale is on until September 16th and it is definitely worth a visit. My post has barely even scratched the surface of what is on show in Sydney at the moment, and I too will definitely have to visit again as there were pieces that we unfortunately missed. Give yourself a full day and be sure to have a pizza and beer at the Cockatoo Island bar which over looks the panoramic Harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

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