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Biennale of Sydney celebrates art at AGNSW

Troy Nankervis

A number of poetic installation works will be exhibited at AGNSW as part of the 19th Biennale of Sydney.
Biennale of Sydney celebrates art at AGNSW

Chinese artist Yingmei Duan will present Happy Yingmei at the Art Gallery of NSW. 

Curated by Juliana Engberg, Artistic Director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), the 19th Biennale of Sydney will feature a program of exclusive events and exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

‘I love Juliana’s approach to living artists and aesthetics,’ said Macushla Robinson, Assistant Curator, Contemporary International Art.

‘She has a wonderful history of curating. The work we can expect to see in the gallery will be engaging and different.’

The Biennale of Sydney is Australia’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts festival, held every two years across multiple venues in Sydney including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Carriageworks, Artspace and Cockatoo Island. The AGNSW is a major venue and has been part of the Biennale since 1976.

This year’s festival title, You Imagine What You Desire, celebrates artistic imagination as a spirited exploration of the world through metaphor and creation. 

‘Juliana has been travelling the world, meeting artists, and has taken the title of her exhibition from a line by Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw which reads “ Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will,”' said Natasha Bullock, Curator, Contemporary Art at AGNSW.

'The sentiments of this wonderful statement lie at the heart of Juliana’s show and reveal the thrust of her style, imbued as it always is with poetry and passion.’

Visitors to this year’s Biennale can look forward to a mix of new and established artists, working both in Australia and internationally. 

Bullock said the AGNSW program includes a site responsive sound and performance work by Chinese artist Yingmei Duan called Happy Yingmei. ‘Yingmei Duan will create a forest out of trees in the gallery and she’ll live in that forest for the duration of the exhibition.' 

'Visitors can enter the space, where Yingmei will approach and give you little notes on paper that describe thoughts and wishes of the day. It’s a quiet, thoughtful and interactive work,’ she said.

Australian artist Bindi Cole will present We All Need Forgiveness, an installation piece containing video monitors with different people repeating 'I forgive you.'

‘I haven’t experienced the work yet because it is still in production, but I imagine it will be very emotional, and perhaps even cathartic,’ said Bullock. 

Like Robinson, Bullock is excited to see the direction of the Biennale under Artistic Director Juliana Engberg.  ‘I was lucky enough to see Juliana’s Signs of Life, which was the Melbourne Biennial in 1999.’

‘That was one of the most moving and brave exhibitions I’ve ever experienced. I am so looking forward to see what Juliana will create in Sydney.'

Accompanying the Biennale of Sydney exhibitions will be a number of public lectures at the weekly Art After Hours series, where the AGNSW remains open to visitors every Wednesday evening until 10pm.

The first of these lectures will be with Turkish born Ahmet Öğüt on 26 March, who will discuss his artwork Stone to Throw: Version Two (2014), which is on display in the exhibition. 

The 19th Biennale of Sydney will include works at the AGNSW from 21 March to 9 June, 2014.

Visit the AGNSW website for more information.

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis

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