Here are my Top Five picks from Dark Heart, 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art. Could be a different Top Five at the next visit…
What’s not to love about collage? Close up this art work is nothing special, a mix of roughly cut and pinned printed and painted fabric (and paper?), but stand back and it’s amazing. Unlike some other exceptionally well crafted works in Dark Heart that have less impact as a whole, this installation entitled ‘The Choreography of Cutting (Spring)” is the most dramatic. Sally Smart was born in South Australia and is based in Melbourne. She combines collage, printmaking, photography, video, puppetry and text in her work. Click here to see more.
I loved this room, not just because of the exciting artworks, but because there is nothing better or more uncomfortable than walking in another person’s shoes. Tony Albert’s installation 108 combines collage, printmaking and cut outs with vintage kitsch (and often offensive) racial stereotypes from books, magazines and newspapers. Being of vintage age, I recognised a lot of the images and text from school and growing up in Adelaide. It’s good for people of Anglo descent to see these vintage items from an Aboriginal point of view, as imagery that we often view as harmless has a sinister undertone.
I particularly liked the cards questioning I Am You Are We Are (Australian) as this gets to the dark heart of Australian identity. Why aren’t all Australians proud of our Aboriginal history? We are fortunate to be attached to the same land and by adoption, Aboriginal heritage. It’s impossible to celebrate Australia Day until we accept the fact that we colonised a country that was inhabited, and deal with the last 226 years by listening and learning.
See more of Tony Albert’s work here.
‘Clouds’ is a super-sized sculpture of everyday objects found in hardware and department stores. Ian Burns has built them into projector of light, images and sound with the addition of two keyboards. The screen repeats the words ‘imagine one moment’ as a plane flies through clouds to piano notes played through the two keyboards. It is hauntingly beautiful and interesting to view from all angles. I wish this artwork was a permanent fixture. More on the artist and artwork here.
A fellow WordPress.com blogger, Brook Andrew is one of my favourite contemporary artists so I’ll divert temporarily to show a couple of examples of past work:
Sexy and Dangerous, 1996. One of Andrew’s well-known artworks that challenges the idea of Aboriginal and other indigenous peoples as an exotic curiosity.
Jumping Castle War Memorial, 2010, created for the 17th Biennial of Sydney, is for victims of war who do not have their own memorial. By interacting with the memorial by bouncing on it. you are also agitating the severed heads, and contributing to the injustice. For more information see here.
For Dark Heart, Australia II (hope this is the correct title). Here is the blurb from the Dark Heart website:
‘Andrew reworks images originally by a young German artist Gustav Mützel, who never visited Australia but was commissioned by Prussian naturalist and inveterate traveler William Blandowski. The once-small bookplate images are up-scaled using new screenprinting technology, and printed onto reflective metallic surfaces that speak of the lure and magic associated with Aboriginal culture in the eyes of nineteenth-century Europeans.’
I can’t go past fantastic textiles, and the Armour installation is outstanding in scale and design. The undulating over-sized knotted sculptures from what looks like shoe laces and cords of varying thicknesses weigh a tonne (sorry Lauren, forgot the exact weight you mentioned!). The sculptures reminded me of the exoskeleton spacecraft from Alien and Prometheus. An added bonus is the inclusion of the Gallery’s Goya etchings .
Here’s the blurb from the Dark Heart website:
‘Dani Marti’s Armour is a series of suspended sculptures woven in synthetic rope, leather and industrial rubber. The artist’s viewing of Samurai armour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York provoked the creation of this series. Marti, who trained in Catalan tapestry techniques, has employed the same knot used in the body-wrapping forms of a Samurai’s garments to create his own shadow warriors.
A selection of etchings from Goya’s Los Caprichos, drawn from the Gallery’s collection, have been included in Marti’s Adelaide Biennial installation, staging a conversation between two artists of Spanish descent across more than 200 years of human history.’
For more on Dani Marti, click here.