This is the first NGV Triennial, a dedicated exhibition for Melbourne, recurring every three years, to present global contemporary art and design. According to the Editor’s note in the NGV magazine Jan/Feb 2018 it’s loosely narrated around five themes: Virtual, Change, Body, Movement and Time. We went to a members party at which we had access to the ground floor. I’ll be going back to see the rest. It’s free and is on until 15 April. I do encourage you to take a look. Here are some of the things that took my fancy. The assault on your senses starts on your way into the gallery.
This room full of geometric painted walls and different shaped wall to ceiling coloured threads was very disorienting! And this close up shows you how it’s done. It’s by Pae White, United States, born 1963, Untitled 2017. She’s known for boundary pushing installations using thread, yarn and weaving. I love the fact that she works with materials traditionally associated with women, and not with high art. She also did this work, which looks like a photograph But is not. It’s very large, the whole length of the wall and quite beautiful, made of crumpled folds of crushed reflective foil joined by cotton and polyester thread. It’s called Spearmint to peppermint 2013 .
Having just seen the Songlines: Seven Sisters exhibition in Canberra I was pleased to see Indigenous art represented at the Triennial. This installation is by the Akay Koo’oila Women’s Art Centre Artists of Aurukun, God’s eye installation 2017 Their creation is a symbol of peace, comfort and healing. The individual woven pieces are based on so-called God’s eyes made in First Nations communities of West Mexico that are believed to signify the power to see and understand things unknown.
I really liked these modern death masks by the American Neri Oxman in collaboration with Mediated Matter Group, Cambridge Massachusetts (design) and Stratasys Ltd., Minnesota (manufacturer) these were made in 2016. They’re very beautiful and you can see them better on this website. But these photographs, in situ at the Triennial, taken in a very dark room, give you an idea of the intricacy, and modernity of the works.
As described on the accompanying panel, Neri’s masks, unlike their traditional, handmade predecessors, are entirely data driven, digitally generated, additively manufactures, and – at times – biologically enhanced. The complex swierling shapes within these masks are modelled on the wearer’s facial features and breathing.
I was looking forward to seeing Japanese artist’s Yayoi Kusama’s Flower obsession 2017 as this is one of the most popular exhibits and there are lots of photos circulating on social media. I’m pleased it lived up to expectations. It’s a little house, completely covered in red flowers. Visitors are handed what’s called a flower decal on the way in and invited to stick them anywhere except the windows. Which is what people have obviously been doing enthusiastically. The end result (well it’s not quite the end yet) looks terrific. I placed my flower on the tablecloth; whatever table setting was there is now completely covered in flowers. Joseph got a bit carried away in the bathroom. It was all quite lovely; heartwarming. This work was commissioned for the Triennial and the artist has said she traces it back to her childhood; One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the colums seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern. I loved the bedroom.
Yahoi Kusama is famous for this giant pumpkin on Japan’s art island
I also really loved the next room; which is as different as it is possible to be from the colour and warmth of the floral house, but just as quirky. These are Manga chairs #1-50 2015 by Oki Sato and Nendo Tokyo. They were accompanied by a little video of line drawings that showed the chairs moving in the funny ways suggested by the designs. It was hard to capture the overall effect of seeing all these chairs lined up in rows in the stark, white room. It looked terrific overall, and in the detail of the individual chairs. This is the balloon chair; in the video it flies up into the sky. These quite lovely lights were on the walls. This installation was by the same artists, called Trace sconce #A1-#A10 2016
This is just a small part of what’s to be seen at the Triennial. I shall return. Hence the title of this blog; NGV Triennial – Part 1