Thursday, August 30, 2012


The Biennale of Sydney has usually included New Zealand artists in the mix although they’ve been pretty stingy about it considering how close NZ is connected to Australian culture. This year’s Biennale has three of them: Peter Robinson, Tiffany Singh and Sriwhana Spong. If you can get there you can see all three on Cockatoo Island (Singh also has an installation in Pier 3).  
Cockatoo Island was first used as a Biennale venue in 2008 when this year’s Documenta curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev was artistic director. It’s a multi-layered place of spectacle and history and has become the highlight of the event. A free ferry gets you there in just 15 minutes and Sydney weather being what it is, the walk round the buildings, along the wharfs, through tunnels and up long flights of stairs creates a dramatic experience. 
Sneaking through the barriers to get a look behind Robinson’s gigantic polystyrene construction, looking over the water listening to the rush of chimes from Singh’s Knock on the sky, and glimpsing people moving like dancers behind Spong’s large orange curtains, Cockatoo Island certainly delivered the goods. Lots of other great things too, of course. Maria Fernanda Cardoso's intense investigation into the sexual mechanics of insects was unforgettable (as you might expect with insect sex organs blown up some hundreds of times)and so too was the elegant neon work of Jonathan Jones. A run-down shipping yard on an island in one of the world's most beautiful harbours, got to love it. 
Images: Top Tiffany Singh Knock on the sky listen to the sound. Middle, Sriwhana Spong Costume for a mourner and bottom Peter Robinson Snowball blind time (click on images to enlarge)