Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
21 Mar 2014 to 09 Jun 2014
James Angus, Benjamin Armstrong, Martin Boyce, David Claerbout, Nathan Coley, Hubert Czerepok, Aurélien Froment, Søren Thilo Funder, Douglas Gordon, Roni Horn, Jim Lambie, Ann Lislegaard, TV Moore, Pipilotti Rist, Emily Roysdon, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, John Stezaker, Corin Sworn, Emily Wardill
The 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire, curated by Juliana Engberg, presented the work of 92 artists from 31 countries at various partner venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Cockatoo Island, Carriageworks, and Artspace
At the MCA the 19th Biennale of Sydney was presented across two floors of the Museum and featured 48 artworks by 19 artists that drew on the elements of air and water and explored the realms of the imaginative and the surreal. Visitors to Circular Quay were presented with the title piece of the exhibition, Nathan Coley’s illuminated text work, YOU IMAGINE WHAT YOU DESIRE (2014), located on the exterior façade of the museum.
The exhibition spaces on level one were transformed into dreamlike wonderlands filled with colour. Jim Lambie’s vibrant Zobop (2014) floor piece thrilled audiences as they navigated their way around the gallery. Entering the double-height space on level one, visitors were transported into the fluid world of colour and sound that was Pipilotti Rist’s video environment Mercy Garden Retour Skin (2014), a new work commissioned for the 19th Biennale.
The Level 3 gallery greeted visitors with Madness is Like Gravity (2012), by Polish artist Hubert Czerepok, the neon spiral of letters spelling out a quote from the Batman film The Dark Knight. Paying homage to the genres of science-fiction literature and film, Ann Lislegaard exhibited her animated video work Oracles, Owls… Some Animals Never Sleep (2012–13). Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn presented the video installation piece The Rag Papers (2013), which explores ideas of imagination, observation and curiosity in the style of a detective story.
Australian artist TV Moore combined colour and texture in a series of five hybrid-media collage pieces. Emily Wardill’s video work When you fall into a trance (2013) examined proprioception and concepts of body language and communication. Turner Prize–winning artist Douglas Gordon presented Phantom (2011), a heart-wrenching video installation that incorporates two Steinway pianos (one burned to ashes) and a soundtrack featuring the voice of Rufus Wainwright.
American artist Emily Roysdon explored temporality and the effects of time on the body in Our Short Century (2013), an installation composed of photographs, photograms, screen prints, video and audio. Aurélien Froment presented Tombeau de Ferdinand Cheval (2013), a series of 50 black-and- white photographs documenting the Ideal Palace located in Hauterives in south-east France.
Australian artist Benjamin Armstrong exhibited five sculptural pieces referencing modernism, primitivism and the surreal. A dreamlike collage series titled Souls (2011), by Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, continued the theme of surrealism; while three playful sculptures by James Angus repurposed the supporting structures of the modernist grid building.
Examining the intersection of film and photography, David Claerbout’s The Quiet Shore (2011) provided a peaceful space for the contemplation of perspective. Roni Horn’s series of magnificent glass sculptures, Nine Liquid Incidents (2010–12), created a meditative environment that alluded to water and light. The mixed-media work Last Light (2014), by Martin Boyce, presented a series of his sculptures reconfigured into a psychologically charged installation examining ideas of public space. First Citizen (House of the Deaf Man) (2013), by Søren Thilo Funder, investigated the link between the psychology of the individual citizen and the rituals of citizenship.
English artist John Stezaker exhibited the largest presentation of his surrealistic collage works in Australia to date, including works from the Mask and Marriage series.