TarraWarra Biennial 2016 brings together new trends in contemporary Australian art.
Since 2006 the TarraWarra Biennial has collaborated with the journal Discipline to produce the experimental curatorial platform. Art Radar selects some highlights from the latest Biennial at TarraWarra Museum of Art.
In its fifth edition, the 2016 TarraWarra Biennial showcases key trends in Australian art practice. Held from 20 August to 6 November 2016, the Biennial is a curatorial collaboration between TarraWarra Director, Victoria Lynn, and Co-founder of Discipline journal, Helen Hughes.
The Biennial’s 2016 theme “Endless Circulation” brings together works that investigate serial and cyclic rhythms that combine the past, present and future. A common theme in several of the works is an exploration of Australia’s colonial history and how it impacts the present. Other artists take social, economic or political perspectives, speculating on new contexts we may be faced with in the future.
The press release explains the intertwining relationship between biennials and journals, a topic that is at the heart of the TarraWarra Biennial:
Both biennials and journals take the form of an edition. They are continuous, one edition after another, but punctuated by pauses. As well as being additive or iterative, biennials and journals produce contrasting modes of circulation. Where biennials typically bring artists and artworks from all around the world to one place for a designated period of time (a centripetal movement), journals disperse—they move away from their site of origin through postal systems, emails and downloads (a centrifugal movement).
In addition to the exhibition, the Biennial offers talks across a number of spaces in Melbourne. The events will cover a range of topics such as the relevance of biennials, Steve McQueen’s postage stamp project (2007-9), a combined lecture-performance on gossip, a comparison of memes with Conceptual art and more. The result of the lecture series will be published in a special feature of Discipline in November.
Art Radar took the opportunity to highlight a selection of five artists from the 2016 edition.
1. Masato Takasaka
Masato Takasaka is both a musician and an artist, having performed as a lead guitarist in über-hip rock bands. Takasaka brings this musical aesthetic into his studio, where his work is described as “an iPod Shuffle on endless repeat: playing the greatest hits of 20th century avant-garde art, with references to constructivism, dada, pop and minimalism alongside the back catalogue of his own greatest hits”. Takasaka works mainly with found objects to create studio installations. He reworks everyday materials in order to create something new.
For the Biennial Takasaka takes another look at his previous artworks, reassembling them to create new works. This process produces a circuit, referencing past, present and the potential future of these found objects that are continually recast.
2. Saskia Doherty
Saskia Doherty is a conceptual artist who works with archival materials to investigate historical, geographical and philosophical contexts. She works with elements of sculpture (such as clay, plaster and concrete) as well as drawing and text. The choice of medium is especially important, as the idea that materials coming from the earth have particular resonance with the human body is pivotal in her work.
Throughout her oeuvre, Doherty explores the relationship between time and place. In an interview with the Abbotsford Convent, Doherty explains that she is “interested in geographical instances of time; quick imprints or actions that have endured an inordinate period of time”.
In her work for the Biennial, Doherty presents a sound piece that traces the act of inhaling and exhaling, following the circulation of oxygenating blood around the body. The breath and the word are intertwined in this work, each exhausting the other, bringing attention to the limitation of finite resources.
3. Biljana Jancic
Biljana Jancic is a Sydney-based artist and writer. Her work is inspired by spatial settings in which she produces site-specific, large-scale sculptural interventions. Responding to the architectural environment and atmosphere, Jancic reframes the spatial dynamic of place, encouraging people to view their surroundings with new eyes.
Her artwork has been exhibited in Australia and internationally in exhibitions at the Underbelly Arts Festival, artist run space 55 Sydenham Road, Eastern Bloc Gallery in Montreal as well as others. She has also worked on a collaborative project entitled The Cloud (2015) with filmmaker Alex Munt for Mosman Art Gallery.
Jancic created a new piece for the TarraWarra Biennial, working with the architecture of the building to reference its often-invisible aspects. The work also incorporates CCTV technology, engaging in conversations about visibility and invisibility in public spaces.
4. Vincent Namatjira
Vincent Namatjira paints bold and thoughtful works that engage with Australia’s colonial history. He regularly references Captain Cook and the Queen, as well as recent Prime Ministers, turning the gaze back onto institutions that have overseen much of his early life experiences. Namatjira comes from a family of artists, including the great watercolourist Albert Namatjira, well known for his iconic images of Central Australia.
Vincent Namatjira explains his process on Iwantja Arts:
When I’m painting I just think about how to make the story work, what I want to show, and I hope that it’s a good one. I enjoy painting; it occupies me, it keeps me thinking and looking all the time. I hope my grandfather would be quite proud. I keep carrying him on – his name and our family’s stories.
Namatjira’s work has gained significant recognition in Australia and internationally. Some of his exhibitions include “Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation” (2015) at the British Museum, London, the Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia and the 10th Mildura Palimpsest Biennale. He was also finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Awards for two years in a row in 2013 and 2014 as well as in the John Fries Memorial Award in 2013 and 2015, and the Outback Art Award.
5. Julia McInerney
Julia McInerney is an artist from Adelaide who graduated in 2011 from the Adelaide Central School of Art. She works in the nexus between words and the sculptural form of physical materials. In her work she investigates the traces left behind by language.
For the TarraWarra Biennial, McInerney melted down metal objects, such as brass bells and anchors, in order to turn them into new sculptural objects. The work plays with the concept of transition between the memory of the past object and with the solidity of the current form.
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