Superposition – Sydney Biennale Pt2


The Gallery of NSW is a classic gallery/museum exhibition space built in 1871 and evolved over time to work with contemporary needs.

Vic and I spent lots of time sitting with Samson Young’s (2018) “Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th” surround sound installation. Young created “Muted Situations #22” as part of his series of ‘muted’ works that reveal the unobserved or masked moments in everyday experience. By muting the sounds of their instruments, the orchestra reveal the underlying susurrus of their movement. Sitting within the installation you can hear the orchestra around you while watching them ‘play’ on a visual recording of the event. There were many times during the performance where the music can almost be heard through the movement of the players.

Riet Wijnen (2015 – ) “Sixteen Conversations on Abstraction: Conversation Six”

Riet Wijnen’s evolving work “Conversation Six” is curiously engaging and gets more and more interesting as you spend time with it and delve deeper into it’s complexities. The programme tells us that this installation is formed around a fictional dialogue between British Constructivist Marlow Moss and Australian artist and pioneer of modernist painting, Grace Crowley. This ‘conversation’ is explored in a diagrammatic sculpture as well as texts and photograms. The plans for the sculpture where fascinating with detailed notes on the thinking behind the structure. I have a soft spot for diagrammatic representations of ideas so I spent a lot of time exploring this work.


Tuomos Aleksander Laitinen (2018) “Dossier of Osmosis”

Where Riet Wijnen’s “Conversation Six” is an exemplary example of structure and reason, “Dossier of Osmosis” is another ‘diagrammatic’ installation that is, in contrast, biologically chaotic and somewhat indecipherable. My love of all things diagrammatical definitely extended to this work which really drew me in. The structure of the glass tiered tables were much like a scientific or archeological display, with all sorts of pieces of text, notes, ingredients, biological and chemical processes and diagrams floating between layers like giant petri dishes. The work questions the disconnect between organic process and the structure that sciences imposes upon them that prevent ‘osmosis’ from occurring. In this case osmosis could be read not just as biological process but as the generation and integration of ideas.

Marjolijn Dijkman (2018) “Navigating Polarities”

There was something incredibly inviting about the large bowl into which the imagery was ‘poured’. Sometimes a vessel, sometimes the firmament, sometimes the ocean, the bowl acted as a sculptural object as much as a projection technique. Curved seating around the edge of the bowl is an invitation to sit and immerse oneself. The work investigates the history or navigation, of polarity and magnetism. It speaks not just to the physical but also to the socio-political implications that go with these themes through a gentle narration and soundtrack that, to me, alludes to narration on TV science shows. Vic and I had been talking about binaries and polarities as we were walking to the gallery which goes some way to explaining why we got so immersed in this work and had to go back to it a second time! On a purely aesthetic level I loved the way the work had been so perfectly crafted to the environs of the bowl and all the detailed visual decisions that had been made by the artist.


Jacob Kirkegaard (2013) “Through the Wall”

This is one of those works that you sometimes pass by mistake in a large art show because it can become almost a part of the environs. Luckily I’d been reading the map and knew the work to expect in the space because accidentally missing this would have been a real shame. This work needs time spent because it’s not something that can be sensed immediately, but give it the time and the viewer is transported. This giant concrete monolith is a replica of the Israeli West Bank Barrier, it is inset with speakers projecting field recordings collected by Kirkegaard on site in Israel/Palestine. The recordings not only represent the ambient sounds around the wall, but also the resonances and reverberations of the wall itself. Sitting with the work – listening to the wall – encourages questioning without imposing any political weight on the listener. I particularly appreciate the fact that the artist refrained from expressing his personal political opinion in the work and allowed it to be open to the viewer’s experience. This is especially refreshing considering how so much of the media we currently consume is heavily politicised and our interpretation considered a fait accompli.



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