17th biennale of sydney at cockatoo island

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island

saturday, 29 may 2010 – it’s been raining for the past couple of weeks here in sydney, so on a decidedly bleak overcast morning, decided to take the ferry out to cockatoo island in the harbour to have a wander around the temporary colony of contemporary art projects…

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island

the island is an extraordinary palimpsest of maritime industrial activity spanning almost 200 years – now defunct and thankfully being used as a site for various public access events like the biennale… and to the credit of whoever, much of the old machinery and most of the buildings remain in their as-left state – like a great sandstone marie celeste…

the island is populated by a garrison of eerily figurative monumental cranes – remnants of early 20th century ship-building. In the photo above, a wayfinding signage column for the biennale stands in front of a zoo-caged specimen…

the scene reminds me strongly of time spent in Venice…

biennale signage

there are 56 artists showing on the island – on this day, I managed to see only about 20 and will be going back over the duration of the biennale (12 may>01 august 2010)

following are a couple of particular interest to me..

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island

Hiroshi Sugimoto – Faraday Cage
above is a detail of one of eight lightboxes displaying photos the artist has made using static electricity – he writes about his process here

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island

sugimoto’s project is a site-specific installation located within a decommissioned power station…

this short video I made of my visit gives a sense of the work…

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island
Peter Hennessy – My Hubble (the universe turned in on itself)
melbourne artist peter hennessy constructed a 1:1 scale model of the hubble telescope from laser-cut plywood – a tour-de-force, perfectly located within the empty hulk of one of the huge buildings of the turbine hall complex….

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island
Kader Attia – Kasbah
kader attia invites visitors to take a metaphoric wander across his ground-level landscape of shanty-town roofs…

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island
Yang Fudong – East of Que Village
chinese artist yang fudong presents a harrowing documentary depiction of rural poverty in a multi-screen circle of steadfastly monochrome videos…

cockatoo island’s industrial determinist spaces – some vast, some claustrophobically dank, all powerfully charged with a weird melancholic absence – work extremely well for the presentation of contemporary art, providing a welcome counter to the austerity of typical gallery spaces… and the wandering around required to visit the artworks and spaces in succession, through tunnels, up and down rusting staircases, along dark corridors, over cracked bitumen and sandstone courtyards, makes for an inspiring and evocative day of perambulation…

2010 Sydney Biennale - Cockatoo Island

17th biennale of sydney website

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