Installation Art

After Utopia

September 5, 2015
IAN WOO, We Have Crossed The Lake, 2009, acrylic on linen, 194 × 244 cm. Courtesy Singapore Art Museum.

Irony has never been a big feature of life in Singapore, but perhaps it’s catching on. Of all nations on the planet, Singapore is arguably the closest thing to a social laboratory, where economic and cultural programs are dreamt up by a paternalistic state and broadly accepted by the population. This centralised control has made … More

Go East: The Gene & Brian Sherman Contemporary Art Collection

July 11, 2015
Zhang Huan, Family Tree, 2000, c-type prints, suite of 9 images, edition 2/3, 227 x 183 cm (framed). Image courtesy: The Gene and Brian Sherman Collection, and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney. Photo: the artist.

Public galleries have always cultivated good relations with private collectors, but lately those ties have taken on a new importance. This is partly a result of governments wanting to palm off the responsibility for arts funding onto private sources. The logic is perfectly cynical: when spending cuts are required the arts are seen as a … More

White Rabbit: Commune

November 1, 2014
Jiang Jin, 'The Orphan Files', (2004)

In the words of the Chinese philosopher, Mencius, “we survive in adversity and perish in ease and comfort.” This thought may be universally applicable but it is especially relevant to China today, as the horrors of the 20th century recede into the mists. It has been almost 40 years since the end of the Cultural … More

Gwangju, Busan & SeMA Biennale

October 4, 2014
Chiharu Shiota's 'Accumulation Searching for Destination' (Photos courtesy of the Busan Biennale)

In South Korea the word “exhibition” seems to be translated as “biennale”. At the moment the Koreans are hosting at least four biennales, if one includes the Daegu Photography Biennale (until 19 October). Last week I managed to catch the other three, two of which have begun in an atmosphere of high controversy. The most … More

Annette Messager

September 6, 2014
Annette Messager, CHANCE, (2011), black net, wireImage courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, Paris and New York

Annette Messager was born in the French provinces to a family of atheists who took a particular pleasure in the local Catholic church. Her father favoured the architecture, while Annette liked the stained glass windows. This biographical tidbit takes on significance when one considers the nature of Messager’s work, which draws freely on the iconography … More

19th Biennale of Sydney

March 29, 2014
Mircea Cantor, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, 2012 (video still), HD video, 4 mins. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris; Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv; and Magazzino, Rome. Sound: Semantron of Putna Monastery.

Biennales thrive on controversy but there is a feeling of unease about this year’s headlines. No-one envisaged artists boycotting the Biennale because the founding sponsor has government contracts to manage detention centres. It was no cause for celebration when Transfield’s Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, one the few dedicated patrons of the arts in corporate Australia, felt obliged … More

Dark Heart: 2014 Adelaide Biennial

March 15, 2014
Alexander Seton, Soloist, 2012. Bianco carrara marble, 95 x 75 x 70cm. Photo: Per Ericson. Courtesy: the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney

Before heading south for this year’s Adelaide Biennial I saw Opera Australia’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Pushkin’s famous character is the archetypal ‘dark heart’. Onegin humiliates the young Tatiana, who has confessed her love for him. He plays a nasty joke on his best friend, and keeps going long after he should have stopped. … More

Sculpture City

February 15, 2014
Anne Ferguson's 'Plateau of Wings' (grey marble). Source SH Ervin

As proven by the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions sculpture enjoys a widespread popularity, but this doesn’t translate into a thriving market. It remains much harder to sell a sculpture than a painting, as private buyers tend to view sculptures as large, cumbersome objects that have no place in the domestic environment. The pieces … More

Christian Boltanski

January 25, 2014
Christian Boltanski opening at Carriageworks

Life as a conveyor belt, taking us inexorably from birth to death, is not an original idea. Charlie Chaplin had the same thought in the famous sequence from Modern Times (1936) when the worker is dragged through the machine. Chaplin had a political agenda but the image also captured the helplessness and insignificance one feels … More

Melbourne Now

January 11, 2014
10,000 Paper Planes - Aftermath (1) 2011 
type C photograph
156 x 200 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased NGV Foundation, 2012

In Melbourne Now the National Gallery of Victoria has staged a sprawling, colossally ambitious survey of the city’s contemporary art that also includes architecture, design, dance, performance and more. Although the logistical achievement is impressive, the exhibition is an act of metropolitan navel-gazing on a scale inconceivable in any other Australian capital. The catalogue is … More

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