Saturday, 4 June 2016

Biennale Cockatoo Island

The three month long 20th Biennele of Sydney comes to an end tomorrow.

One of the venues each year is Cockatoo Island.

It's a fabulous venue for a large exhibition as well as being a fascinating place to visit in it's own right. Full of history, industrial beauty and a scenic spot to watch the boats on Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island can easily take up a full day of exploring at the best of times.

But when you have the added bonus of an art exhibition and all the food stalls that go along with that, then that day trip can become a huge affair indeed!

I confess that this year's installations on Cockatoo Island didn't do a lot for me.
It felt like someone forget the fun.

Thank goodness for the dumpling bar and the beanbags in the sun!

There were also a lot more video works than previously. And video art doesn't usually do much for me.

However, one of my favourites, because it was so intricate, other-worldly and layered with meaning, was Conscious Sleep by Chiharu Shiota.

It was a whole body experience to enter this space. 
This particular room has three entrances and numerous windows. It is situated high on top of the island. Passing through the doors from full sun into the cool, dark, woven space created by Shiota was quite surreal and a little disturbing.

The threads were beautifully complex and suggestive of connections, constraint and cocoons.
It felt dreamy and nightmarish at the same time.

Six Women by Bharti Kher was intriguing.
According to the official website, she made use of the minimalist, abstract and readymade to "engage with a range of ideas, including gender politics..."

These six sculptures were modelled on real women.
Kher describes them as "mythical urban goddesses".

The island itself is also quite beautiful with all it's industrial, now historic workings.
Not to mention the views across the harbour!
(For those who want to know, the green headland across the water is Elkington Park in Balmain.)

Then there was just the weird.

Justene Williams with the Sydney Chamber Orchestra, used a combination of light, sound, costuming and performance for a Reinvention of the 1913 Futurist Russian (anti) opera Victory Over the Sun. The website used the words 'nonsensical' and 'heady'.
Noisy and jarring were closer to my experience.

Willing to Be Vulnerable by Lee Bul was an alien like experience involving giant helium balloon shapes and metallic and plastic screens that flowed through the space which is, apparently, "emblematic of the dreams and aspirations of humanity".

It's always a good day out going to Cockatoo Island, but the art was a tad disappointing.
This post is part of Saturday Snapshot


  1. Sorry you were disappointed. Art is so subjective! Hope your next excursion is more satisfying.

    1. On reflection, it probably had more to do with my feelings about the previous Biennale's on Cockatoo Island. I thoroughly enjoyed the last two and maybe my hopes were too high this time around?

  2. What a cool concept! That first art installation made me nervous to look at for some reason! Lol. It was a little creepy, but I can see how it could also be very dreamy as well.

  3. Intriguing exhibit indeed. I've never been to Australia, but it's on my bucket list. :) Thanks for sharing your experience with us! - Arti

  4. The first surreal images would make great covers for horror

    I like the real women sculptures...makes me feel a little bit less...bad. lol

    Thanks for sharing...and here's MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST

  5. An eyeful of art! Terrific post--thank you for sharing these photos. What a beautiful blog you have!

  6. Ha ha! I saw your picture of Victory over Sun and thought it was pretty cool--then I read that there was an audio component. I'm not sure I would like THAT very much!

  7. A shame it was disappointing this year. I've only been out once, but it was great fun- even though we didn't find a dumpling stall. That first one is creepy. I nearly went to Biennale this year, but heard that Marque was closing and went there for lunch instead. What's a girl to do?

    1. I think Marque was the wise option this year.


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