Thursday, 19 July 2012

18th Biennale of Sydney: my thoughts on Cockatoo Island

Phillip Beesley
The Near & The Elsewhere contributer Elizabeth Little has already presented her thoughts on the Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island (read her review here) so I'm not going to go over it again. However, I did happen to find myself on the island last Sunday and there are just a few things I'd like to say.
Phillip Beesley, Hylozoic Series: Sibyl, 2012
 Firstly, a word of advice, never head to Cockatoo Island on 'Family Fun Day'. The lines were unbelievable and I don't believe it's an exaggeration when I say I spent half my day in a line- line for the ferry, line for the artwork (there were at least three that had over a 45 minute wait to even get close) and then the two hour long line to get off the island. I'm not saying this should deter you from going, just that you should prepare yourself- and take snacks.

While there were some exceptional works on the island, there were equally some very disappointing works. Again, to be expected with such a large exhibition. By far the most stunning and entirely sensational work was that of Phillip Beesley. Now, you will need to line up for this one- it was about 45 minutes the day I was there- but well worth it. His work integrates lightweight, digitally fabricated textile structures and interactive microprocessor technology (touch sensors, LEDs, shape-memory alloy). Translation: you walk through a veritable wonderland of light and textiles and as you move through, the structure begins to move and light up- it's brilliant.
Phillip Beesley

Tiffany Singh, Knock On The Sky Listen To The Sound, 2011
 Sadly when I was in Melbourne in May for the Next Wave Festival I unfortunately missed out on seeing the work of Tiffany Singh. I felt very lucky to be given the chance to see her beautiful sound piece here. This was an instance of the work perfectly suiting the surrounds as the wind chimes hang from the structure and move with the breeze. Again, it was like entering another world.

There is always a concern when showing works on Cockatoo Island that the actual island itself and the pre-existing buildings will over-shadow the work. In some instances this was the case- I actually saw people taking photos of the island and completely ignoring the art- this is not what a curator wants.

I have every intention of going back- but on a weekday- and I very much look forward to seeing what Pier 2/3, the MCA and Art Gallery of New South Wales have to offer.  


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1 comment:

  1. Having visited Cockatoo Island at least five times in the past year and a half I still find myself snapping a picture of some part of it's structure even after a day spent for that specific purpose, it's a magnetic place, looking forward to seeing the artworks you mentioned. Thanks for your post.

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