Sydney, June 2012: In addition to Co-Artistic Director Gerald McMaster, twelve (12) Canadians will feature in the 18th Biennale of Sydney, which runs from 27 June to 16 September. They are: Shuvinai Ashoona and John Noestheden, Khadija Baker, Philip Beesley, Iris Häussler, Cal Lane, Jess MacNeil, Erin Manning, Nadia Myre, Ed Pien, Jon Pylypchuk and Tanya Tagaq. The curatorial vision all our relations explores collaboration, conversation and compassion, and the matrix of conversation around this theme will extend to both artists and audiences. The 18th Biennale of Sydney will also present two major public lectures featuring Canadian speakers.
Gerald McMaster, PhD, OC, is a curator, artist and writer, and since 2005 has been the Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, where he recently curated Inuit Modern: The Esther and Samuel Sarick Collection. He was also a member of the curatorial team for the 2010 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto.
At the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, McMaster was the Director’s Special Assistant for Mall Exhibitions and Deputy Assistant Director for Cultural Resources. McMaster was also Curator, Canadian Museum of Civilization.
18th Biennale of Sydney Keynote Address
City Recital Hall, Angel Place
Saturday, 30 June from 6.00–7.30 pm
Speaker: Philip Beesley
Philip Beesley will present the Keynote Address for the 18th Biennale of Sydney. Beesley is best known for creating responsive environments that blur the boundaries between art and life. His Toronto-based practice, PBAI, focuses on residential and public building design, as well as exhibition, stage and lighting projects. He is also Professor of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, and Director for the Integrated Centre for Visualization, Design and Manufacturing.
Beesley has earned several prestigious awards including the Prix de Rome for Architecture in 1995. His installation Hylozoic Ground (2010) represented Canada at the 12th Venice Biennale for Architecture and his new installation work, Hylozoic Series: Sybil (2012), is presented in the 18th Biennale of Sydney.
Nick Waterlow OAM Memorial Lecture
Art Gallery of New South Wales (Domain Theatre)
Wednesday, 11 July from 7.15–9 pm
Speaker: Bruce W. Ferguson
Bookings required: (02) 8484 8718 or email@example.com
The Nick Waterlow OAM Memorial Lecture is presented biannually by a leading international curator to mark the unique contribution made by Nick Waterlow OAM to the arts and academia.
Bruce W. Ferguson is Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the American University in Cairo. He previously served as Dean of the School of Arts at Columbia University, as well as President and Executive Director of the New York Academy of Art and founding Director and curator of SITE Santa Fe in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Ferguson has curated exhibitions for institutions such as the Louisiana Museum, Copenhagen; the Barbican Art Gallery, London; the Winnipeg and Vancouver art galleries in Canada; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and contributed to the international biennales of São Paulo, Sydney, Venice and Istanbul.
Shuvinai Ashoona began drawing in 1995, working with ink, colour pencils and markers. Ashoona comes from a family of respected artists as the daughter of Kiuga Ashoona and Sorosilutu and the granddaughter of Pitseolak Ashoona. Her works focus on everyday life, blending contemporary style with traditional Inuit heritage. Landscapes are populated with unsettling creatures reminiscent of both shamanic and Christian iconography. They portray a sense of the order that humans typically try to impose over nature in an attempt to control the often chaotic and uncontrollable environment. Earth and Sky (2008), made in collaboration with John Noestheden, is a large-scale banner that will be displayed during the 18th Biennale of Sydney.
Where Ashoona’s work is rooted in the earth and landscape, John Noestheden depicts atmospheric skyscapes and representations of the universe. Working across the mediums of drawing, installation, sculpture and performance, Noestheden also explores ideas of beauty, control, order and chaos. Using ink and acrylic paint, Swarovski crystals and titanium ore, Noestheden’s large-scale works on paper look to star maps, photographs taken by the Hubble telescope, astronomy and the painted skies of Vincent Van Gogh for inspiration. His sculptures transpose two-dimensional diagrams and illustrations of star formations into three-dimensional aluminium objects that interpret perspective and spatial relationships.
As an artist of Kurdish descent, now living and working in Montreal, Quebec, issues of migration, displacement and diaspora are recurring themes in Khadija Baker’s work. Baker creates politically charged and intimate sculptural installations utilising video, textile, sound and performance. Her work raises issues of the suppression and survival of individual and collective memories. Baker will present her works Coffin-Nest and Quand vous réveillez les esprits in the 18th Biennale of Sydney. These will be accompanied by a performance work, My Little Voice Can’t Lie, which will be presented during opening week on the Biennale Free Ferry to and from Cockatoo Island.
Artist and architect Philip Beesley is known for his kinetic sculptures and large-scale robotic installations. Working with the concept of Hylozoism – the ancient belief that all matter in the universe has a life of its own – Beesley’s sculptural installations have developed and evolved into kinetic entities and responsive environments that blur the boundaries between art and life. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Beesley will create a site-specific installation on Cockatoo Island.
Iris Häussler is a conceptual artist based in Toronto whose works – narratives in the form of site-specific installation – blur the boundaries between reality and fiction, story-telling and art. Häussler is best known for her large-scale installations in domestic situations. Former sites have included a residential home, a discount store, rented apartments and hotel rooms. Usually adopting a fictional character as her starting point, Häussler imagines and constructs a hyper-realistic world into which she invites unsuspecting members of the public to venture as voyeurs. Visitors are invited to interact and interpret the lives of Häussler’s characters and, in so doing, add new layers of meaning to the work. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Häussler will create a new immersive installation in an historic house on Cockatoo Island.
Shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award in 2004, Cal Lane marries fine art and welding in her ornate sculptures utilizing reclaimed steel. Working with objects including spades, wheelbarrows, oil drums and car doors, Lane raises these industrial materials to the status of fine art. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Lane will create a new work on Cockatoo Island involving a stenciled carpet of red sand and a steel-cutting performance into a shipping container. The Biennale will bring Lane’s work to Australian audiences for the first time.
Born in Canada, Jess MacNeil moved to Australia with her family as a young child and now lives and works in London. Her early experience of migration led her to consider the differences between cultures and the conflict of feeling physically at home yet culturally displaced. MacNeil works at the intersection of painting, photography, video and installation, often creating works that consider the relationship between humans and their environment, and the ways in which people occupy public space. The Shape of Between (2006), a meditative work depicting the serenity of four rowing boats crossing a still stretch of the Ganges River, will be shown on Cockatoo Island.
Erin Manning is a Canadian artist, philosopher and academic, currently teaching at Concordia University in Montreal. Manning’s academic research has influenced her artistic practice, encouraging the exploration of relational exchange and participation in her works. Stitching Time will take place on Cockatoo Island. A sculptural artwork consisting of a durational textile installation designed to be reshaped over time, visitors are encouraged to participate by altering the fabric, design or use of space. The concept for the work has roots in the slow food movement, with its emphasis on community, and in a critique of prêt-a-porter fashion that predefines the cut of the fabric and the shape of the body. Manning envisages the work as a place for rest, conversation and daydreams, as well as a pathway or passage through which to explore.
Nadia Myre works across the mediums of film and video, sound, the Internet, handwork, interaction and performance. She explores themes of longing and loss, and the essentially human desire to reconcile the two. Myre’s interest in scars stems from her concerns with identity and experience, and specific focus on ideas of pain and healing. Scars are a signifier of time, of lives lived, and Myre treats the blank canvas as a body with the potential to be damaged and repaired. The Scar Project (2005–12) is a collaborative effort in which audiences depict their own scars on canvas and write an accompanying text. Treating the cloth like skin, participants cut and stitch the canvas, disfiguring and healing it in turn. The result is an ever-evolving installation that portrays an often unsightly reality in a poignant and compelling light. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Myre will continue The Scar Project with a Sydney audience.
Born in Taiwan, Ed Pien migrated to Canada with his family at the age of eleven. His work – which encompasses installation, paper-cuts, drawing and video – draws upon a rich combination of both Eastern and Western sources, marrying stories, crafts and traditions from his birthplace with contemporary European and North American influences. Pien will create a site-specific installation on Cockatoo Island. Visitors will be able to immerse themselves within the complex labyrinth of paper, decorated in pen and ink with poetic characters. Pien will work in collaboration with Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq to create a sound element within the structure, and in conjunction with artist Monika Grzymala whose work will also appear in the space.
Vocalist Tanya Tagaq is renowned for her contemporary and innovative approach to Inuit throat singing. Raised in the remote northern Arctic community of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, she left home at the age of fifteen to study visual arts in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was not until her teenage years that she begun to experiment with Inuit throat singing techniques, developing her signature solo style. She taught herself throat singing from tapes that her mother sent her as a way of reconnecting with her Inuit cultural heritage. Prior to her Inuit throat singing, she had never sung before. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Tanya Tagaq will contribute a recorded performance to Ed Pien’s immersive, site-specific installation on Cockatoo Island.
Jon Pylypchuk is a multidisciplinary artist working with painting, sculpture, video and installation. He is best known for his sculptures of tragicomic creatures, executed in a distinctly non-precious style from found materials including old clothes, bits of wood, wallpaper, glitter and other detritus. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney, Pylypchuk will create a large installation in one of Cockatoo Island’s tunnels comprised of ice coolers (known in Australia as ‘eskies’) turned into anthropomorphic figures with illuminated eyes, who are found mining for gold.
Canadian participation in the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) is made possible with support from
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