Wednesday, June 28, 2006

biennale biennale

Detail of Gormley's Field installation at Pier 2/3 Sydney Biennale. Check out

Went to the Sydney Biennale on the weekend - only saw the MCA and the Pier parts, so I'll be going back to see the rest. I had this instant reaction of irritation when I got there. I immediately started telling Ted what was wrong with each of the works and how it would be better. I needed to chill, get some perspective and find something I enjoyed - which I did.

Highlights of the Biennale for me were:

- Julie Gough's lovely ti tree and cuttlefish installation
- Djambawa Marawili's barks - this work was beautifully installed in Pier 2/4 and had the best artist's statement
- Antony Gormley's impressive Field project - really moving work and placed in such a fantastic environment
- Mona Hatoum's tensely delightful motorised domestic assemblage - really don't know how to describe this one, it's clean, sharp and poignant
- Julie Mehretu and Stephen Vitiello's sound and drawing installation

I only saw a bit of the show - so I need to go back and see the rest. Being tired and hungover means I had a somewhat grumpy encounter with much of the work I saw so the following whinge reflects that particular state of mind.

I love art and most of my waking hours revolve around it - but sometimes it really annoys me. So much installation art tries too hard and wants to make sure you get everything - it ends up coming across more like a museum education display or a documentary. Now I'm getting started on documentaries I also got pissed with how much indifferent video art I saw on the weekend.

The following points are not criticisms of the Biennale but video art in general. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against video as a genre, and I even make videos myself, but here's what bugs me:

1. Most video art I have seen recently looks like documentary. I love documentaries, but so many artists make something that's not a good documentary and not very engaging art - just doesn't quite get there on either count.
2. I'd like to see artists challenge the genre, mess with it, do something unexpected even...
3. When the gallery is full of videos and there is nowhere to sit I get cranky
4. Noise bleed shits me - you go into a gallery and all the sounds from the different installations overlap creating an irritating cacophany - that makes my head hurt.

That's my whinge about video.

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