The 18th Sydney Biennale is upon us, opening with appropriate fanfare in a series of launches and public events across five venues last week. The name of the game this year is all our relations, delving into collaboration, conversation and connection. Co-artistic directors Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster have brought an interesting group of artists together for the show; artists that share an interest in collaborative processes, grapple with co-evolution and complex ecologies of practices, and are interested in drawing audiences into environments of connectivity and genesis. There is a genuine warmth to all our relations, a sense of optimism and renewal, a refreshing turn away from modernist principles of negativity, separation and isolation that have pervaded the arts for so long.
With more than 100 artists and collaborators from over 40 countries involved in this 18th biennale, the prospect of taking it all in can be a daunting one. Here’s the low-down. Each major exhibition venue addresses a sub-theme: AGNSW, where the art walk begins, is titled In Finite Blue Planet, offering a dizzying array of perspectives of the earth and its inhabitants; the MCA’s Possible Composition plays with the reassembly of disparate elements, instilling a kind of aesthetic holism through difference; Pier 2/3 features three large-scale works, brought together under the moniker as above so below in artistic univocity; and Cockatoo Island, once again a standout, offers Stories, Senses and Spheres, uniting many of the ideas explored in other venues with a joyous and sensual exploration of our connectedness with environment, each other and our stories.
All our relations is bound to be a crowd-pleaser, and it would indeed be hard not to find something to love among the works, which all seem to share a gentleness, an invitation, a desire to touch us and in some cases to be touched, and a sense of unity, possibility and creation founded on our differences. Highlights include Phillip Beesley’s astounding Sybil and Fujiko Nakaya’s atmospheric fog sculptures on Cockatoo Island, Yuken Teruya’s mind-boggling paper sculptures and Guido van der Werve’s mesmeric video work at the AGNSW, and Alwar Balasubramaniam’s organic architectural forms and the Mangano sisters’ video works at the MCA. The 18th Sydney Biennale, various venues, free, open until September 16.
Until Sep 16, various venues, free, 8484 8700, bos18.com