See the Top Ten Sydney Biennale Showstoppers
  Author:Nicholas Forrest   Resource:ARTINFO   2012-07-13 08:40:01  

Although this edition of the Sydney Biennale has its flaws, which I discussed in my previous analyses of the exhibition for artinfo, there are some outstanding works of art that deserve a closer look. More likely to be remembered for the few truly amazing artworks rather than the experience as a whole, the exhibition is undoubtedly still a big success thanks primarily to the triumphant highlights.

One of the most engaging and awe-inspiring works of the exhibition is Liu Zhuoquan’s Two-Headed Snake, 2011, a huge collection of bottles that have been inside-painted with haunting silhouettes of snakes. Resembling scientific specimen jars, the ghostly images painted on the bottle represent an object that exists in spirit, but not in flesh.

The overall range of video works selected for this edition of the Biennale is rather disappointing. There is, however, an outstanding example that more than makes up for the other less than engaging offerings. Guido van der Werve’s Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright, 2007 makes use of the video medium to great effect with an incredible play on perspective that is thoroughly engrossing.

The groundbreaking use of animated black and white images on acetate to display the beautiful paintings of Aboriginal artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu makes the work titled Light Painting, 2010 one of the most beautiful and surprising offerings. As the different images slowly change over, blending and bleeding together, the viewer is treated to a truly spiritual experience of time and place.

Architecture meets art meets biology in Philip Beesley’s epic Hylozoic Series: Sibyl, 2012 installation on Cockatoo Island. The amazingly complex structure is both a feat of engineering and a wonderfully artistic expression of a thought provoking concept. Seeing visitors enthralled and amazed as the “interactive garden” comes alive in response to being touched and explored is an experience in its self.

Liu Zhuoquan

Two-Headed Snake, 2011

Glass bottles, mineral pigments, dimensions variable

Courtesy the artist and China Art Projects, Beijing

Judith Wright

A Journey, 2011

Found objects, dimensions variable

Courtesy the artist; Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne; and Jan Manton Art, Brisbane

Photograph: Carl Warner

El Anatsui

Anonymous Creature, 2009

Found aluminum and copper wire, 241.3 x 609.6 cm

Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu

Light Painting, 2010

Animated white paint pen on 110 acetates, dimensions variable

Liu Zhuoquan

Two-Headed Snake, 2011

Glass bottles, mineral pigments, dimensions variable

Courtesy the artist and China Art Projects, Beijing

Alwar Balasubramaniam

Nothing From My Hands, 2011–12

Fibreglass wood and acrylic, dimensions variable

Courtesy the artist and Talwar Gallery, New York and New Delhi

Ed Pien

Haven, 2007

Paper, ink, sound, video, live-cam, overhead projection

900 x 600 x 430 cm

Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain, Montreal

Photograph: Richard-Max Tremblay

Guido van der Werve

Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright, 2007

Video, 10:10 mins, dimensions variable

Courtesy the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

Philip Beesley

Hylozoic Series: Sibyl, 2012

laser-cut acrylic, Mylar, aluminium, copolyester, silicon, glass, shape-memory alloy, custom PCBs, LEDs, thin gauge electrical wire, 2000 x 740 x 400 cm

Installation view of the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) at Cockatoo Island

Courtesy the artist

Project team: Jonathan Tyrrell, Eric Bury, Martin Correa, Brandon DeHart, Susanne Eeg, Andrea Ling, Elena Moliotsias, Anne Paxton, Anne Sewell, Kristie Taylor, Mingyi Zhou, in collaboration with Rob Gorbet, Rachel Armstrong, Martin Hanczyc and Mark-David Hosale

This project was made possible with assistance from the Canadian Friends of the 18th Biennale of Sydney

Pinaree Sanpitak

Anything Can Break, 2011

Handmade glass, paper, music, motion sensors and sound system, dimensions variable

Courtesy the artist

Photograph: Aroon Permpoonsopol

Peter Robinson

Snow Ball Blind Time, 2008

Polystyrene, 250 x 300 x 120 cm

Courtesy the artist and Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth

Photograph: Bryan James

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