Featuring the work of 78 artists and designers from 32 countries, the NGV Triennial surveys the world’s best art and design, across cultures, scales, geographies and perspectives.
The inaugural NGV Triennial will open in December 2017. It will be a free exhibition and celebration of contemporary art and design practice that traverses all four levels of NGV International, as well as offering a rich array of programs.
The NGV Triennial explores cutting edge technologies, architecture, animation, performance, film, painting, drawing, fashion design, tapestry and sculpture.
Visitors will have an opportunity to look at the world and its past, present and future through the eyes of some of the most creative minds working today.
Over the past fifteen years, Adel Abidin has straddled the Arab and Western worlds. Born in Iraq he divides his time between Helsinki and Amman. Charting a steep international trajectory, Abidin has represented both Finland and Iraq at the Venice Biennale. In 2007 he created a fictional travel agency within the Nordic Pavilion advertising tours to war-torn Baghdad and in 2011, his critically acclaimed Consumption of war video installation featured at the Iraqi Pavilion.
The NGV has acquired Abidin’s Cover-up! 2014 for the NGV Triennial, a work that earned him the accolade Artist of the Year at the 2014 Flow Festival in Helsinki. Cover-up! is a video installation shot in black and white that recreates the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. In it, the breeze from an underground subway provocatively lifts Monroe’s dress. Replacing the iconic siren with an Arab man and Monroe’s infamous white dress with a Kandora, Abidin’s ‘Monroe’ comically struggles to preserve his imputed modesty. Abidin challenges our assumptions of beauty, seduction and propriety in the work. The title invites various possible interpretations, taking on moral overtones of female decorum and gesturing toward duplicity in political power.
Abidin’s video and sculptural installations consider the intersection of global politics with constructions of identity. His works play with Western preconceptions of the East, reflecting Abidin’s own experience navigating between worlds. With an ironic wit, Abidin addresses themes of cultural alienation and difference. Referencing racial stereotypes, pop culture and traditional icons, Abidin designs tense encounters that engage and confront
viewers with questions of their own complicity.
Emerging artist and designer Alexandra Kehayoglou hails from a family of carpet makers in Buenos Aires. Plying the family trade in the service of her work, Kehayoglou hand-tufts wool rugs in a process that takes several months to complete. Commissioned and acquired by the NGV, Kehayoglou’s major new work will premiere at the NGV Triennial. Santa Cruz River 2016–17 will immerse viewers in a lavish interior installation of hand-tufted rug and tapestry.
Kehayoglou’s monumental carpeted landscapes showcase extraordinary scenes and record natural ecosystems in flux. Santa Cruz River seeks to document and enunciate one of Argentina’s most contested landscapes, the proposed site of two major hydroelectricity dams on the Santa Cruz river – the last free-flowing wild river in the country. These dams draw into focus implicit tensions within globalisation; Argentina’s accelerating demand for energy production balanced against politically controversial and potentially irrevocable consequences for the natural ecosystem.
Kehayoglou’s woven landscapes are shot through with narratives of renewal and ecological sustainability. Rendering aerial topographies of grasslands and lush wetlands underfoot, Kehayoglou draws tactile attention to our enjoyment of the natural world and by inference to the importance of preserving and protecting it. The finished rugs meld elements of art and design with ancient tradition. Kehayoglou describes her unique works as portals to memories, with a direct connection to the Ottoman-style carpets her Greek grandparents once wove in Isparta, Turkey.
Kehayoglou’s work has found fast traction in the design/art crossover scene. In 2014, Kehayoglou carpeted the runway for Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten’s Paris Spring/Summer 2015 show in a commission that has lead to collaborations with French fashion brand Hermès and Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. Last year Kehayoglou participated in Design Miami/Basel and The Armory Show in New York following her participation at the Frieze Art Fair, London in 2015 and exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Chamber Gallery, New York.
Supported by the Buxton Family.
PET Lamp is a collaborative project focussed on co-designing unique, handmade woven lampshades with local Indigenous artists that reuse PET plastic bottles. For the NGV Triennial, the Gallery has commissioned Studio Alvaro Catalan de Ocón to travel to the remote community of Ramingining in Arnhem Land to work with Bula’bula artist weavers to develop the first Australian version of PET Lamp as a major commission merging design and Indigenous art.
Bula’bula artists are highly regarded for their unique bark and canvas paintings, dupun (hollow logs), yidaki (didgeridu), and fibre art such as mindirr (dilly bags), bush string bags and beautifully woven mats. A group of renowned Bula’bula fibre artists including Robyn Djunginy and Clara Matjandatjpi (Wubugwubuk) have collaborated for this acquisitive commission.
The PET Lamp Project (an initiative by the Studio Alvaro Catalan de Ocón, Madrid) emerged as a response to the global problem of plastic waste, combining the reclamation of plastic bottles with local textile traditions from around the world. The project explores possibilities for design collaborations with Indigenous artists to create unique and resonant works that also generate ongoing income for Indigenous communities.
Supported by Vicki Vidor OAM and Peter Avery.
Like an alchemist, Analia Saban renders stone as fabric in her work, Draped marble (Fior di Pesco Carnico, Fior di Pesco Apuano, Crema Dorlion, Onyx) 2015, which comprises four rectangular marble slabs ‘draped’ over a wooden sawhorse. The work, Saban’s most ambitious sculptural work to date and the centrepiece of her recent solo exhibition at Houston’s Blaffer Art Museum, has been acquired for the NGV Triennial. In it, Saban exploits a familiar disconnect between perception and expectation to blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture.
Abstract patterns in the crystalline mineral structures of Saban’s broken marble ‘canvases’ recall vast and cavernous landscapes. Central to the artist’s investigation is the poetic connection she draws between these minerals and pigment. The once fluid and infinite particles that make up stone imply its potential to be milled back into pigment for paint. For the NGV Triennial, Saban’s work will be exhibited in the context of previous works by the artist in the NGV collection which further dissect conventional definitions of traditional art forms.
Analia Saban was born in Buenos Aires and is currently based in Los Angeles and New York. Saban participated in Made in L.A. in 2012 at the Hammer Museum and Prospect.3 New Orleans at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans in 2014. Most recently, Saban has exhibited in group exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles in 2016 and the National Museum of Norway, Oslo in 2014.
Ben Quilty is one of Australia’s best known contemporary painters, widely recognised for his distinctive expressive, impasto style. Quilty’s predilection for loose, painterly brushstrokes that appear dashed off in a clatter of smears and stutters impart an atmosphere of drama, animation and momentousness to his paintings. Drawing on challenging aspects of Australian culture and history, Quilty’s paintings strike an equilibrium between exuberance and restraint to seduce viewers into a consideration of the social issues at stake in his works.
Quilty’s work in the NGV Triennial, High Tide Mark 2016, is an exciting new acquisition for the Gallery. The painting depicts a single life vest, rendered in a vibrant palette of lush orange and red paint. At the invitation of World Vision Australia, Quilty travelled to Greece, Serbia and Lebanon in 2016 with author Richard Flanagan to witness firsthand the global refugee crisis. On a beach in Lesbos, Quilty observed a ‘high-tide mark’ of bright orange sea-safety vests, discarded by Syrian asylum seekers as they reached the shore, having made the short but perilous journey across open ocean from Turkey. For Quilty, the vest symbolises the ‘ocean of humans that have moved across those waters’, themselves dislocated and dispersed like the castoff vests.1
Quilty is represented in major public and private collections in Australia and internationally and has been widely commended for his work, winning the Archibald Prize in 2011 for his portrait of Margaret Olley and the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2009. An acute social observer, the Australian War Memorial commissioned Quilty as an official war artist to Afghanistan in 2011.
Supported by the John McCaughey Memorial Prize Trust.1 Quoted in Barbara Miller, ‘Confronting Mortality’, 7 Nov. 2016, ABC News, ABC,
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-07/confronting-mortality:-ben-quilty-confrontsthe-syrian-exodus/7995244, accessed 30 Jan. 2017.
Tasmanian born, London based designer Brodie Neill’s recent investigations have focused on the environmental hazard and phenomenon of ocean plastic pollution. Surrounded by ocean, Australia increasingly bears witness to this ubiquitous plastic pollution along its coastlines.
Gyro, table 2016 is Neill’s innovative contemporary interpretation of a nineteenth-century specimen table, substituting samples of marble, timber and ivory with fragments of blue and green plastic waste. This composite ‘ocean terrazzo’ is inlaid in a vast and colourful array depicting the Earth’s longitudinal and latitudinal lines. Gyro, table takes its name from ‘gyres’; large systems of circulating currents that move ocean water around the world, and with it millions of tonnes of toxic plastic waste.
Neill has consolidated a bold signature aesthetic over the past decade defined by sinuous lines and Möbius-like sculptural forms. Neill’s design ethos embraces experimental digital design technologies to reflect organic forms and natural phenomena accentuated by a striking sensitivity to materials.
Neill honed his design skills at the University of Tasmania and the Rhode Island School of Design where he developed a focus on the potential of computer-aided technologies. Neill has since forged a strong international design presence evident in production pieces and high-profile projects for global brands Swarovski and Alexander McQueen to public sculptures and collectible edition pieces for galleries and private collectors. Gyro, table first premiered at the Australian pavilion of the inaugural London Design Biennale in 2016 and has been acquired by the Gallery for the NGV Triennial, marking its first Australian showing.
Forming a key component of the NGV Triennial, Büro North will create a digital media environment: a multi-use, ambient and flexible platform for the exchange of ideas drawn from across the NGV Triennial. This exciting conceptual space will compel audience interaction and immersion within the NGV Triennial’s key themes: Body, Change, Movement, Time and Virtual.
Büro North will work in association with an international network of thought leaders invited by NGV to explore critical issues and ideas of our contemporary world as theme curators. Conceived as an incubator for research and creating the conditions for engaged discourse, the space will house interactive multimedia and cross-platform content, including interviews and essays, podcasts and social media content, poetry, film and infographics, appealing to a broad range of audiences.
Established in 2004 by Soren Luckins, Büro North is an interdisciplinary design practice specialising in wayfinding and graphic environments. Driven by the desire to create better futures by design, Büro North deliver creative and experiential interactions primarily focussed on the execution of innovative ideas. Leading a team of talented, lateral-thinking designers, Luckins’s unique approach to design reflects his passion for contemporary art, science and technology. He is focused on the fusion of creativity and pragmatics; balancing the demands of both to ensure exceptional outcomes.
Camille Henrot is one of the most highly publicised contemporary artists of recent years. Representing an exciting new addition to the Gallery’s permanent collection and the NGV Triennial is Henrot’s Contrology 2016, a new, large-scale, anthropomorphic bronze sculpture of two cartoon-like legs emerging rigidly from a rectangular slab – one morphing into a flipper.
Contrology is an early term for Pilates and, laying on its back, with handles for arms, the work evokes the apparatus used in the fitness system for which it is named. Part-human, part-animal and part-machine, it deals with themes of transformation. Contrology is one of a series of works by Henrot that humorously explores ‘Monday’ and the ambivalent sentiments the first day of the week inspires; from renewed faith in the possibility for change through self-betterment to despondency over the tedium of weekly routine.
The rhythms and means of imposing order on human experience have been the focus of much of Henrot’s creative output in recent years. The artist’s groundbreaking video work Grosse Fatigue 2013 presented an index of typologies and systems of knowledge that garnered Henrot critical acclaim, earning her the Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.
She has since held solo exhibitions at significant institutions worldwide including the New Museum in New York and London’s Chisenhale Gallery, both in 2014, and has forthcoming exhibitions scheduled at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Contrology forms part of a larger project that will be presented at this latter exhibition in October 2017 that will include the remaining days of the week.
With her singular vision, Berlin-based, South African artist Candice Breitz is internationally recognised as a leading contemporary photographic and video artist. The NGV Triennial will showcase an exciting new immersive, multiscreen video installation by Breitz entitled Love Story 2016, co-commissioned by the NGV, Outset, Berlin and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.
Love Story focusses on the current, worldwide refugee crisis. The work has evolved out of the personal narratives of six individuals who have fled their countries in response to a range of oppressive conditions. Engaging A-list Hollywood actors, Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin to give voice to their stories, excerpts from the interviews are woven into a fast-paced montage, plotting the diverse socio-political and personal circumstances that prompted the interviewees to leave their countries. In a second, adjoining space, the original first-hand accounts are projected in their full duration and complexity.
The work brings the hypervisibility and privilege of celebrity into stark relief against the invisibility and anonymity of the refugee experience, critically reflecting on misplaced feelings of identification and indifference toward each. Love Story continues Breitz’s exploration of the language and history of cinema to share stories that might otherwise fail to elicit mainstream attention or empathy.
Breitz has held numerous solo exhibitions over the course of an impressive twenty-year career including at the Blaffer Art Museum, Houston in 2014; the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne in 2012 and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2009. This has culminated in a comprehensive mid-career survey exhibition staged in 2016 by the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart. Breitz has participated in most key international biennales, including Venice in 2005; Istanbul in 1999; and São Paulo in 1998, amongst others.
Internationally regarded as one of the most acclaimed contemporary sculptors working today, New York based artist David Altmejd is best known for his mysterious, occasionally monstrous, biomorphic forms and figures. Altmejd’s sculptures are suspended between figuration and abstraction to viscerally confuse boundaries between interiority and exteriority, surface and support. With visionary creativity, Altmejd invests his forms with a sense of sublime and supernatural energies that hint at imagined, mythical narratives of transcendence.
Newly acquired by the Gallery for the NGV Triennial, Mother 1 (Relatives) 2013 is part of an acclaimed suite of sculptures known as The Bodybuilders. In Mother 1 (Relatives), a large rectangular form covered in epoxy clay is suspended upside down from the ceiling from which emerge three arms, gouging out their own human shape. With a sense of movement and energy, the work hovers in a permanent state of flux – of immanence and becoming – that is heightened by its monumental scale. This suggestion of transformation makes the sculpture appear self-generating, an autonomy that encourages viewers to see it as alive.
Over the past fifteen years, Altmejd has exhibited widely in North America and Europe including solo exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2014 and the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007 where he represented Canada. Altmejd’s work is held in public collections including the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum, New York.
Supported by Len and Elana Warson.
The NGV Triennial will introduce the work of Edson Chagas to Australian audiences with six new acquisitions from his recent Tipo Passe 2014 photographic series, each depicting an anonymous suited male figure donning a traditional African mask. The figures are shot squarely facing the camera and are tightly cropped in the universal format of the passport photograph. Enabling migration and border-crossing, the passport – Tipo Passe in Portuguese – takes on an enlarged significance in the twenty-first century as refugees move across borders in rarely precedented numbers.
Tipo Passe explores cultural memory and historical trauma in post-colonial Angola, which gained independence from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975. The population and its culture were largely ‘unseen’ by the European colonialists in Portuguese Angola, just as the masks in Chagas’s photographs serve to hide the identities of his sitters and obscure traces of their individuality. Borrowed from private collections in Angola, the masks have been divested of their ritual and cultural contexts and transformed into decorative curios.
Edson Chagas has exhibited regularly in Africa, Europe and the United States since 2010. In 2013, Chagas was awarded the Golden Lion for his work in the Angolan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and was recently included in Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015 at MoMA, New York.
Supported by the Bowness Family Foundation.
For the NGV Triennial, Einat Amir will stage Coming Soon Near You, an unconventional and witty activation that invites members of the public to engage in the live performance of the work. Realised in the form of a lounge room setting, participants can register for allotted session times to view their own materials, from home movies to favourite television shows, in the gallery space amongst visitors to the NGV Triennial. Amir’s activation is an incongruous melding of public and private domains which considers the meeting point between passivity and performativity. The activation is a reconfiguration of Coming Soon Near You 2011 exhibited at Dallas Contemporary Art Center.
Amir works predominantly in video installation and live performance with a reach that extends across disciplines to include visual art, music, theater and choreography. Amir’s practice investigates human interactions that explore the possibilities inherent in everyday communication between people. Partly staged, partly improvised, partly real-time and partly pre-recorded, she envisions her studio as a ‘lab of emotional research’ in which to experiment with the creation of interactions that blend notions of authenticity, fabrication and manipulation.
Amir received her MFA from Columbia University in 2009. Her work has been exhibited widely at major institutions including MoMA PS1 and The Kitchen in New York, The Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Istanbul’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Whitechapel Gallery.
The NGV will present three newly acquired hand-carved wood panels from Ephrem Solomon’s Signature 2016 series for the NGV Triennial. This powerful body of work boldly exemplifies Solomon’s evocative graphic style and visually dramatic imagery to depict a population faced with alienation and limited social and political mobility.
Solomon portrays unidentified, solemn and isolated figures drawn from his observations of daily life in Addis Ababa. He celebrates the simplicity of the domestic and unextraordinary with a sensitivity and quiet dignity that prioritises human experience and the experience of the individual within ‘the masses’.
The rough-hewn quality of Solomon’s works and the manner of their making gives his panels the appearance of woodblock prints, though they reveal a more sculptural presence on closer inspection. In his idiosyncratic technique, Solomon’s hand-
carved figures are embellished with acrylic paint and framed by patchwork backgrounds of collaged newspaper clippings. Featuring raw, expressive line work, a limited palette and stark contrasts, they capitalise on woodcut’s potential for immediacy and historical association with political content.
Solomon has achieved significant acclaim as an exciting emerging artist. In recent years he has exhibited widely in Africa and in several exhibitions in Europe. Solomon’s works are held in private collections in Dubai, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and the United Kingdom.
For the NGV Triennial brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana will exhibit Vitória Régia 2017 in collaboration with Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, the Centre for Appropriate Technology and Alice Springs based designer Elliat Rich.
Drawing upon shared motifs from across cultures and geographies referencing waterways, the collaboration will present a vividly colorful upholstered dome, a meeting point and resting place to welcome visitors to the NGV Triennial. Vitória Régia is a major new acquisitive commission investigating the possibilities for large-scale making, merging furniture technology at an architectural scale with intricately embroidered embellishment from the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists.
Evoking the colour and creative chaos of São Paulo in Brazil, the Campana brothers create exuberant yet thoughtful design work that celebrates the triumph of simple solutions in a complex world. Since 1983, the influential design collaboration has achieved international recognition as one of the world’s most progressive and successful design studios. Their work captures the essence of transformation and reinvention, imbuing commonplace and ordinary materials with preciousness.
Since 2000, the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists have been working as an arts training project and vibrant community hub for the Larapinta Valley Town Camp and today play an important role in rebuilding strength in the community and creating economic access for residents.
Faig Ahmed is internationally renowned for re-imaging the historical Azerbaijani carpet. An enduring symbol of Azerbaijani culture, Ahmed digitally distorts and rearranges centuries old carpet patterns and compositions to challenge – often quite literally unravelling – our perception of tradition.
The NGV Triennial will showcase Ahmed’s extraordinary woven woolen carpet, Hal 2016, made by the master weavers of his home region Baku. Simultaneously tactile and cerebral, Hal is a new interpretation of Ahmed’s signature approach, ‘liquefying’ a classical rug pattern into a hand-woven puddle on the gallery floor. Ahmed is among a new wave of contemporary artists utilizing traditional craft techniques in innovative ways to produce conceptual works that break with conventions and lend their work a contemporary currency. Ahmed’s whimsical and arresting works engage viewers through their play with perception and qualities of opticality.
Ahmed represented Azerbaijan in the nation’s inaugural showing at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and participated in a group presentation for the pavilion in 2013. Ahmed has widely exhibited his works in the US, Europe, Russia and the Middle East.
Supported by Sarah Morgan and Andrew Cook.
Amsterdam based design studio Formafantasma are amongst a handful of design practices shaping the future of design. Their work is characterised by deep material investigations resulting in the design of objects that disrupt the historical, political and social status quo. For the NGV Triennial, Formafantasma will create a new body of research driven work entitled Ore Streams 2017 that challenges us to consider the impacts of the global trade in rare earth metals for common consumer electronics such as smartphones and ‘above ground mining’, or electronic waste recovery methods.
Formafantasma is the collaborative design studio of Italian designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin. Their experimental practice hovers between design and contemporary art research, reflecting a critical approach to materials and their use in production and grappling with the specificities of sculptural language.
Studio Formafantasma’s research for Ore Streams will be presented as a series of critical design objects made from various metals reclaimed from consumer electronic devices. First editions of the collection along with commissioned research and graphics will be acquired into the permanent collection.
Formafantasma’s works are collected by prestigious public institutions including MoMA, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, ’s-Hertogenbosch; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; MAK, Vienna; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Chinese born fashion designer Guo Pei’s elaborate couture constructions reflect on the tradition of China in the contemporary age. The designer said, ‘It is my responsibility to let the world know China’s tradition and past, and to give the splendour of China a new expression’.2
Guo’s couture was launched on the international stage in May 2015 when pop star Rihanna wore her canary yellow fur-trimmed gown and cape to the Costume Institute’s annual gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The gown, which took 55,000 hours to make over two years, included a spectacular train which extended for many meters as Rihanna walked ceremoniously up the lavish red staircase. The same year, Guo was invited to show her collections in the official Paris Haute Couture Week calendar, and in July, held her first solo exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
The elaborate excess that has become Guo’s hallmark includes dense layers of embroidered colour, swells of beaded semi-precious stones and vast skirt volumes that marry European silks with traditional Chinese design heritage. Her designs reference traditional Chinese iconography, craftsmanship, embroidery and painting. As part of her installation commissioned especially for the NGV Triennial, Guo Pei will present garments from her Legend Spring 2017 Couture show in Paris, which took inspiration from the eighteenth century and Marie Antoinette.
Guo began sewing at two years of age and quickly developed a passion for dressmaking. In 1997, she launched her own atelier, Rose Studio with eveningwear designs that attracted the attention of China’s celebrities, royalty and political elite. In 2008, Guo was selected to design the ceremonial dresses in the Beijing Olympics. Today, she employs nearly 500 skilled artisans, including 300 embroiderers and 200 designers, patternmakers and sewers and is based in Paris.2 Quoted in Kathleen Hou, ‘Exclusive: Chinese Couture Designer Guo Pei Releases M.A.C Collaboration’, 30 Apr. 2015, nymag.com, New York Magazine, http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/04/chinese-couture-designer-releases-mac-
collab.html, accessed 31 Jan. 2017.
For the NGV Triennial Hassan Hajjaj will create an immersive and lively experience for visitors in the ground floor cafe. The space will be transformed into a Moroccan tea house with furniture made from found materials, traditional rugs, artist-designed wallpaper and light fittings, and will be hung with a selection of Hajjaj’s vibrant photo-works.
Hajjaj has a long-standing involvement with photography, video, fashion and music. His photographic works are studio-based portraits of his friends: fellow artists, musicians and fashion designers. Hajjaj uses highly decorative backdrops of ready-made floor mats and wall coverings, and creates costumes that combine traditional African fabrics with global luxury brands. The images are presented in individually crafted frames which use Moroccan packaging to make brilliantly coloured, sculptural ‘settings’ for his portraits. With his use of bold colour and patterning and his combination of bespoke costumes and readymade objects, his work evokes African studio portraiture from the 1960s and 70s.
Hajjaj moved to London from Morocco as a teenager and today lives and works in both London and Marrakesh. Since the early 2000s Hajjaj has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the US. He has also held major solo shows at The British Museum, London in 2016; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles in 2013 and 2015; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London in 2005.
Supported by the Orloff Family Foundation.
Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen’s garments embody possibilities for the future of fashion. A pioneer in 3D printed garments, her theatrical designs merge the digital with traditional couturier craftsmanship and are acclaimed for their interdisciplinary approach.
As part of a presentation of recent works by van Herpen, the NGV Triennial will present Dress 2011, a recently acquired design by van Herpen for Icelandic singer Björk to wear on stage during her 2011 Biophilia tour. The spectacular garment is formed from circular semi-transparent acrylic sheets that have been hand and laser cut and mounted to create a three-dimensional shell-like shape. The design is based on van Herpen’s 2011 Spring-Summer Escapism collection, her first couture collection, which drew conceptually from feelings of emptiness, the grotesque and the fantastic and aesthetically from the work of American artist Kris Kuksi. Like many of van Herpen’s works it took several months to construct and is a remarkable fusion of technology, handicraft and exaggerated form.
After graduating in 2006, van Herpen interned at Alexander McQueen, London and Claudy Jongstra, Amsterdam. She established her own Haute Couture womenswear label in 2007, launching at Amsterdam Fashion Week. In July 2011, after seven collections, van Herpen was invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Paris where she now continues to present two collections each year.
Supported by the Norma and Stuart Leslie Fund.
Jem Noble works with artefacts of material and visual culture, exploring the forces they mediate. The NGV Triennial will present The Blush Response, which is a media performance for public observation decks in metropolitan towers and skyscrapers.
The Blush Response is available as an app via the App Store and Google Play. It delivers a personal soundtrack to augment the contemporary urban vista. Users in Melbourne may select Eureka Tower from the list of worldwide tower and skyscraper locations. GPS coordinates must match those of the selected tower. Headphones must be attached to the device. Only one play per location is possible. If these conditions are met by sunset, the performance begins, as night falls on the metropolis and its pulsing circuitry.
Created using contract labour via an international freelance web platform, The Blush Response forms part of Noble’s ongoing investigation into media materialities, embodied subjectivity and the body politic.
Noble is based in Vancouver (Unceded Coast Salish Territories) and Melbourne (Kulin Nation). He has presented work at Documenta 13; Manifesta 7; Tate Britain; ICA London; EVA Biennial; SCAPE Biennial of Public Art; The Museum of Haifa; Spike Island, Bristol and VIVO Media Arts, Vancouver.
Jonathan Owen uses materially reductive processes such as erasure or subtraction to transform readymade objects, images and works of art. The NGV Triennial will present Untitled 2016, which is the artist’s largest and only life-size work to date and which has been acquired by the Gallery.
Untitled is a pre-existing sculpture of a classical nineteenth-century marble nude that has been modified from its original form by the artist. In the work, Owen has dramatically carved away sections of the figure’s torso to reveal a series of interlocking chain forms. The sculpture was created by British sculptor Richard James Wyatt (1795-1850), a virtuoso carver of life-size figures and groups who was best known for his single female figures. It was titled as Nymph coming out of the bath 1831. Untitled elucidates Owen’s interest in making by removing, and in the controlled collapse of existing objects as a method of production. The sculpture is recognisable as a figure, but semi-detached from itself, it also emphasises its own materiality.
Owen lives and works in Edinburgh. In 2002, he participated in New: Recent Acquisitions of Contemporary British Art at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and Art Basel, Miami and Hong Kong, both in 2014. Most recently, Owen exhibited at Frieze London in 2016 and The Armory Show, New York in both 2015 and 2016.
Supported by the Ruth Houghton Bequest, NGV Foundation and NGV Supporters of Contemporary Art.
Jorge Méndez Blake approaches art as ‘someone who is trying to write, but without writing’, creating installations, drawings and interventions at the intersection of visual art and classic literature. Quite literally occupying this space is Complete poems 2015, consisting of a red neon light that spells out the work’s title on the gallery wall. Complete poems has been acquired by the Gallery for the NGV Triennial.
Méndez Blake has developed a visual language that engages with an expanded notion of ‘the library’ – not just as a repository of accumulated information, but as an object with infinite formal possibilities and a living institution with a mandate to preserve and disseminate knowledge.
Within this conceptual framework sits Bartlebooth Monument 2011–15, Méndez Blake’s suite of watercolours featuring in the NGV Triennial and acquired for the Collection. Bartlebooth Monument completes the unfinished life project of Percival Bartlebooth from the Georges Perec novel, Life a User’s Manual 1978. In Perec’s novel, Bartlebooth endeavours to paint 500 watercolours of the sea to be rendered into jigsaw puzzles, laboriously reassembled, and once completed, completely erased – ultimately leaving no trace of Bartlebooth’s life’s work. Bartlebooth dies blind with a puzzle piece in hand, having completed only 438 of the puzzles. Méndez Blake’s paintings – representing the remaining sixty-two watercolours – are progressively diluted into obscurity, fading nostalgically like the character’s memory and sight.
Since 2000, Méndez Blake has taken part in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Madrid, Montreal, Paris, New York City, Osaka and Oxfordshire. He has received various awards and grants in his native Mexico and has undertaken residencies in Spain, the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Supported by the 2015 NGV Curatorial Tour Group.
Joris Laarman’s experimental design practice explores the aesthetic potential of technological progress. In 2004, Laarman, together with his partner and filmmaker Anita Star, founded Joris Laarman Lab in Amsterdam. The innovative lab collaborates with craftsmen, scientists and software engineers to explore the possibilities of emergent manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and robotics.
Laarman’s Bridge table 2010, Maker chairs 2014, Microstructure chair 2014 and Dragon bench 2014, acquired by the NGV for the NGV Triennial, together form a trailblazing collection of experimental furniture previously unseen in Australia. Each of these five iconic works was developed using generative design software and different digital fabrication methods to explore Laarman’s critical and creative concerns. The collection as a whole demonstrates the seismic impact of digitalisation on contemporary design and production. The culmination of fifteen years of exploratory material research and development of bespoke digital tools and machinery is evident in each piece.
Highlights of this collection include the Maker puzzle chair 2014 which is the world’s first crowd fabricated prototype with blueprints open for modification and available online for home printing; and the Dragon bench, a twelve by eight-foot structure comprised of small deposits of molten stainless steel printed mid-air by a robotic 3D printer allowing designers to draw lines in space.
Laarman’s works feature prominently in major public design collections worldwide including MoMA, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Josephine Meckseper is one of the foremost contemporary artists working in installation today. Meckseper’s work melds the aesthetic language of Modernism with formal languages of commercial display and advertising – vitrines, window displays and magazines – to demonstrate inextricable influences of consumer culture on society. By simultaneously exposing and encasing contemporary artifacts such as advertisements, political symbols and everyday objects, Meckseper’s renowned stainless steel and glass vitrine installations are windows into the collective unconscious of our time.
A highlight of Meckseper’s presentation for the NGV Triennial will be the inclusion of her large-scale vitrine, Las Meninas (2Xist) 2013. This will be the first Australian showing of this significant work, newly acquired by the NGV for the NGV Triennial. Las Meninas (2Xist) is part of a recent body of works that allude to the political dimension of early modernist design between the First and Second World Wars in Weimar Germany, referring to the rise of the Bauhaus and Deutscher Werkbund and their imminent destruction through the Nazi regime. Meckseper is developing a new environment for the NGV Triennial to encompass Las Meninas (2Xist) and extend its ideas.
Meckseper’s work has been exhibited at major institutions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich (2009) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2008), and featured in various international biennials including two Whitney Biennials (2006 and 2010); the Sharjah Biennial (2011); and the Taipei Biennial (2014). In 2007, a major retrospective of Meckseper’s work was organised by the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Stuttgart. Most recently Meckseper’s works were included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015) and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015).
Supported by Michael and Emily Tong.
Kay Hassan’s vivid narratives of everyday South Africans reflect dually on the plight and stoicism of his subjects. One of South Africa’s most highly regarded artists, Hassan’s work highlight the presence and resilience of the marginalised and disenfranchised. Utilising torn fragments of commercial billboard posters, Hassan collages imposing portraits of Johannesburg’s inhabitants. The Gallery will exhibit four newly acquired works in this style by Hassan for the NGV Triennial.
Hassan’s experience of growing up in his mother’s shebeen, or speakeasy, can be felt in the inquisitive but streetwise vision realised through his ‘paper constructions’. Hassan’s use of impoverished materials imbues the work with a feeling of urban decay, contrasting with his subjects who are cast with a compassionate eye and dignified bearing. By engaging with the social, political, environmental and economic issues of contemporary South Africa, Hassan interrogates the everyday realities of the dispossessed and the displaced around the world.
Hassan was the first recipient of the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Contemporary Art in 2000. He has developed both a strong national presence exhibiting widely in South Africa in a career spanning over thirty years as well as an impressive international profile having exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and 2009; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam in 2008; Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland in 2003; and the Gwangju Biennale, in 1995.
Supported by the Bonnici Family.
A self-trained miniaturist, Kushana Bush presents highly-detailed multiple-figure compositions in which violent and enigmatic narratives unfold. Bush uses dense gouache and gold on paper in a style as much indebted to the aesthetics of illuminated manuscripts as to Mughal and Persian miniature traditions. Bush considers herself a storyteller for our age. Her serene – almost sensual – compositions and muted palette belie the depiction of curiously violent community rituals, conflating violent sacrifices with university hazing ceremonies, passion plays with festive birthday parties. Her paintings are littered with art-historical allusions to Indo-Persian art, Japanese ukiyo-e as well as medieval European art history.
In the NGV Triennial, Bush will be represented by newly acquired works in the NGV Collection. A central work, The Stoning Diptych 2015, references Matthais Grunewald’s Temptation of St. Anthony c. 1515, in response to a radio report of a public flogging the artist heard in 2015. In it, naked figures are borne aloft in the crush of a crowd, members of which variously lob stones, fly kites or play musical instruments. Soft-cheeks-woebegone 2015 is an adaptation in dance of the Massacre of the Innocents biblical motif. With characteristic irony, these juxtapositions punctuate Bush’s visual commentaries on our contemporary world and its anxieties. All five works suggest that communal activities, rituals and ceremonies today, as in past ages, revolve around violence, cruelty and voyeurism.
Bush studied at the Otago School of Art in Dunedin graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2004. In 2011, she was awarded the prestigious Frances Hodgkins Fellowship through the University of Otago and in 2009, completed a residency in Seoul through the Arts Centre/Asia New Zealand Foundation. Bush lives and works in Dunedin.
Supported by Jo Horgan and Peter Wetenhall.
Melbourne-based contemporary artist Louisa Bufardeci utilises craft techniques to transform statistics and data into captivating visualisations. Bufardeci mines the facts and figures that represent some of the most pressing issues facing humanity. Her colourful embroidered graph works explore the tension between the traditional and technological, breathing tactile life into the inherently impersonal.
The sea between A and I 2014–15 is a suite of eight needlepoints recently acquired by the Collection for the NGV Triennial. The suite is based on images of the waters between Australia and Indonesia as mediated through Google Earth. The works reference the perils of asylum seeker voyages between the two countries and their coverage in the media.
Each title in the suite reflects the GPS coordinates at which a boat carrying refugees has sunk attempting to reach Australia’s shores. Investigating approximate locations of reported incidents online, Bufardeci scans the abstracted imagery of the water for shapes that bear a resemblance to figures or that relate to the body and adapts them to needlepoint. This process of abstraction mirrors the increasingly opaque reportage of events in the region.
Bufardeci has exhibited widely since 1991 including in Australia, Italy, Romania, USA, India, Taiwan and Japan. She has undertaken residencies in India and Bangladesh and was a Gertrude Contemporary studio artist in residence from 1999 to 2002.
For over a decade, Myoung Ho Lee has photographed solitary trees isolated from their environments by backdrops of vast white canvas. Lee’s interest in this format derives from its capacity to display familiar objects in a new context while celebrating the beauty of the natural world with the unique form of each of the trees he photographs. Four of Lee’s distinctive photographs will be exhibited in the NGV Triennial.
The use of canvas backdrops creates a partial outdoor ‘studio’ for Lee. In his images, the limbs and foliage of trees are shown in crisp detail, appearing flattened; reduced to elegant graphic elements floating in space. The setting in which each tree grows can be seen extending beyond the blank canvas backdrops so that each plant is shown paradoxically as both isolated from its context, and situated within its habitat.
In their poetic economy, Lee’s works pose profound questions about representation and the device of framing, reality, art, the environment and ways of seeing. In East Asian philosophy, the universe can be broken down into sky, ground and human. For Lee, ‘It’s as if the tree unites all: the ground, the sky and man in between… Since a tree connects all three, I feel very much that a tree is like a universe’.3
Myoung Ho Lee has widely exhibited his work across Asia, Europe and the United States. His work is held in the collections of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Gyeonggi, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.3 Quoted in Nadia Saccardo ‘Still life’, Smith Journal, Vol. 4, Spring 2012, p. 88.
With its oddball cast of characters, Nathaniel Mellors’s latest episode in his absurdist film series Ourhouse will screen at the NGV Triennial. Ourhouse chronicles the decline of a wealthy and eccentric English family as they receive an unlikely visitation from ‘The Object’, who devours the contents of their library.
Ourhouse, Ep. -1: Time 2016 is the fifth, irreverent instalment of the projected six-part series and Mellors’s most ambitious to date. The bizarre events of the fifth episode unfold in the ‘northern wing’ of the family’s dilapidated country manor, inhabited by tribes of Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. Mellors’s characteristically dark vision is realised over the course of the Ourhouse series as a means of deconstructing language and power structures. The fifth episode deals with contemporary issues surrounding technology and the objectification of the ‘other’ as considered through a lens of pre-history.
Mellors references Pier Paolo Pasolini’s classic film, Teorema (1968) in Ourhouse, which he reconceives within a familiar British sitcom format. Mellors also frequently employs science fiction tropes, evident throughout the series, as in his sculptures, performances and critical writings that test social conventions and accepted standards of taste and morality.
This year, Mellors will represent Finland at the 57th Venice Biennale. He has previously participated in the Taipei Biennial in 2014 and Performa 2011 in New York. Mellors has been exhibited at significant institutions in Europe and the United States including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in 2014 and the ICA, London in 2011. Mellors was the recipient of the prestigious COBRA award in 2011. Ourhouse, Ep. -1: Time was commissioned by the Harris Museum and Art Gallery with the support of the NGV.
One of Japan’s most acclaimed designers, Oki Sato is founder and chief designer of Japanese design studio Nendo. The NGV Triennial will present a major new acquisition of fifty Manga chairs 2015 and fifty Trace sconce lights 2016 by Nendo. This whimsical presentation represents the only international purchase of the full Manga series – a significant addition to the NGV’s contemporary design collection.
Manga comics are characteristically flat and abstract with line work typified by visual dynamism. The style, which developed in the late nineteenth-century, has its origins in earlier ukiyo-e prints from the Edo period and today is an iconic form. Nendo’s Manga chairs translate emblematic graphic forms from the Manga style to furniture design. Each of fifty standard chairs is reimagined with a design element drawn from Manga; effect lines, speech bubbles and symbols to visualise emotion are incorporated into the chairs’ stainless steel frames to create a stunning installation that invokes endless imagined narratives.
Since 2002, the studio has produced inspired and arresting graphic, product, furniture, installation and interior design that fulfil Nendo’s mandate to deliver small moments of sudden insight. Nendo studio has presented exhibitions at MoMA in New York; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Centre Pompidou in Paris; the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Supported by Bruce Parncutt AO and Robin Campbell, and Michael and Emily Tong.
A former medical student, Neri Oxman’s inspired architectural and design projects are inflected by her fascination with synthetic biology and materials science. The NGV is fortunate to be one of the first to premier Oxman’s Vespers death mask series from her New Ancients 2016 collection for the NGV Triennial.
Heading a team of researchers from MIT Media Lab – the Mediated Matter group – Oxman has worked in collaboration with world leading 3D printing company Stratasys to design and fabricate this extraordinary series of fifteen death masks that explore ancient and modern relationships to death and the afterlife including the last breath, the transition between life and death and rebirth.
Haunting and visually arresting, the masks combine state-of-the-art 3D printing technology and custom software with ancient customs believed to memorialise and guard souls in their transition from life to death, ‘or death to life’, Oxman explains, ‘depending on one’s reading of the collection’.4 The complex swirling shapes within the masks are modelled using data mined from structures found in nature, the facial features of the wearer and physical flow of the breath. The Vespers will be on display in a dedicated space in the NGV Triennial.
In 2016, Oxman was named a Cultural Leader at the World Economic Forum. Her work is included in permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., amongst others. Since 2005, Oxman and her team have won numerous awards and their work has been written about in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and more.
Supported by anonymous donors.4 Quoted in Alice Morby, ‘Neri Oxman creates 3D-printed versions of ancient death masks’, 29 Nov. 2016, Dezeen, https://www.dezeen.com/2016/11/29/
neri-oxmandesign-3d-printed-ancient-death-masks-vespers-collection-stratasys/, accessed 6 Feb. 2017.
In an attempt to process the trauma associated with the 1992 LA Riots, Nick Cave began making the fantastical Soundsuits for which he has become well known. Symbols of endurance, they are full body, wearable sculptures intended to obscure all markers of race, gender, age, sexual identification and class, ensuring an impartial reception for their wearer.
Two of Cave’s spectacular Soundsuits (both 2015) have recently been acquired to premiere at the NGV Triennial. Both costumes consist of white beaded suits with dramatic headpieces: one incorporates the contents of a multicoloured vintage burial wreath encrusted with imitation flowers; the other, an oversized circular disc sprouting a spiral of lush red and white hair. Both are joyous and carnivalesque, eliciting all the spectacle of a marching band in procession.
Bearing some resemblance to African ceremonial costumes, Cave’s Soundsuits are made out of everyday materials sourced largely from flea markets, including dyed human hair, plastic buttons, beads and feathers. Working across sculpture, performance and dance, Cave frequently brings his Soundsuits to life, designed to rattle and resonate in concert with movement.
Cave currently lives and works in Chicago where he is a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is held in public collections including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.
Supported by the Fox Family Foundation.
Breuning’s playful collaged images offer a bemused critique of the absurdities, anxieties and excesses of contemporary life. Using collaged images and familiar phrases he navigates between ‘high’ and ‘low’ artistic practices with a subversive and occasionally sarcastic wit.
A suite of Breuning’s large-scale prints will feature in the NGV Triennial, three of which have been acquired for the Collection. Don’t worry 2015 depicts an oversized foot hovering ominously above a massed group of amorphous forms gazing anxiously upwards, mouths agape. Ladder 2015 shows fourteen people climbing seemingly endless ladders in t-shirts bearing slogans such as, ‘It has to be nice up there’, ‘We will be better’ and ‘I want more’. The third work, Life III 2015 depicts a lounging cast of characters surrounded by the detritus of contemporary life: champagne bottles, a blow-up hot dog, costumes, masks and money.
In 2016, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf organized a retrospective of Breuning’s work. Breuning has held solo exhibitions at major public institutions including the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Chisenhale Gallery, London; and Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg am Breisgau. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions including the 2008 Whitney Biennial in New York as well exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; and Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Olga Chernysheva came of age during the Soviet Union’s demise. Working across video, drawing, painting, photography and text, her work captures fleeting moments of day-to-day life in contemporary Moscow, gleaning insight into a ‘post-Soviet
state of mind’.5 The exhibited works are a series of three delicately rendered pencil drawings with collaged text elements illustrating everyday street scenes. The drawings depict a public congregation in Untitled (In December) 2015 a group of street workers donning sandwich boards in Untitled (As a rule…) 2015 and a close-up of the markings of a giraffe seen through, and replicated by, a diamond mesh fence in Untitled (If one…) 2015.
Chernysheva’s approach is both formally sophisticated and subtly humorous. Drawing on the metaphorical visual language of classic Soviet filmmakers such as Alexander Dovzhenko and Sergei Eisenstein, she continues a long tradition of social realism
in Russian culture (as opposed to Soviet Socialist Realism) and of art as a vehicle for critical and compassionate narrative.
In an illustrious career spanning more than two decades, Chernysheva has held solo exhibitions at the Drawing Center, New York (2016) and at the Russian Museum, St Petersburg (2004) as well as group shows at the New Museum, New York (2011) and the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2013). Chernysheva represented Russia at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001 and exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Her work is held in major international collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow.
Supported by the Ruth Houghton Bequest.5 Skye Sherwin, ‘Artist of the Week 95: Olga Chernysheva’, The Guardian, 8 July 2010.
Los Angeles-based artist Pae White creates imposing installations and individual works that use humble materials ‘up-scaled‘ to defy expectations and create a sense of grandeur. White is best known for her enormous machine-loomed tapestries and immersive site-specific installations of fields of visually humming objects – popcorn kernels and mirrored geometric or colourful paper cut forms – suspended from hundreds of fine threads to form monumental ‘mobiles’.
Spearmint to Peppermint 2013 is an immense tapestry depicting the crumpled folds of crushed reflective foil. Initially appearing hyper-real and almost photographic, the weave of the tapestry reveals itself on closer inspection, creating a clever vibration between material and image. This is an illusion that is enhanced by the alchemy of transforming dull cotton and polyester thread into reflective metal.
White has exhibited extensively across the United States and internationally over the past twenty years, as well as undertaking high profile projects for the Venice Biennale in 2009 and Whitney Biennale in 2010. She has executed commissions for Transport for London, the New Opera House in Oslo, and Berlin Brandenburg and Los Angeles airports.
Pascale Marthine Tayou creates large, vibrantly coloured installations and sculptures that explore effects of globalisation and postcolonial experience. His work is closely linked to travel and the notion of the global village. From his journeys, Tayou salvages the material detritus of consumer desire – airline ticket stubs, shop receipts, batteries and plastic bags – reminding us that contemporary economic systems, while generating great wealth, also produce large amounts of waste.
Coloured stones (Pavés colorés) 2015 comprises an arrangement of quarried granite paving stones each selectively sprayed with a primary colour. In the work, acquired for the Collection, Tayou references the practice of appropriating paving stones in times of social unrest to repel police and anti-revolutionary forces, during, for instance, the French Revolution, the May 1968 student protests in France and most recently, during the wave of demonstrations in Turkey in 2013.
Tayou’s arrangement consists of two discrete piles of coloured paving stones, pointing towards the allegiances and divisions that make up any modern community and the concrete political history that lies beneath contemporary consumer culture.
Tayou is a leading voice in African contemporary art. A self-taught artist, Tayou has achieved broad international success having exhibited his work in major group exhibitions worldwide including the Venice Biennale in 2005 and 2009, Documenta 11 in 2002 and Altermodern: Tate Triennial in 2009. In 2015, Tayou held a major solo exhibition in London at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery.
The historical avant-garde, traditional crafts and experimental theater traditions of Poland and other former Soviet countries have consistently influenced Paulina Ołowska’s incisive and original output. In an impressive career spanning more than fifteen years, Ołowska has worked across performance, sculpture, painting, neon and fashion to reappraise history and bring recognition to underappreciated (female) artists.
Ołowska’s works in the NGV Triennial combine portraits of women from gardening magazines with elements from Slavic mythology and folklore, as well as techniques from Les Nabis, artists who left Paris in the 1890s in favour of the countryside. The paintings incorporate arcane references and nuanced details that allude to the pastoral and represent Ołowska’s ‘active muses’, characters with specialized knowledge; experts in fungi or butterflies, gardeners and painters. The painter 2016, acquired by NGV, is one of Ołowska’s most ambitious paintings and depicts a woman staring intently back at the viewer with a self-assured and attentive gaze.
Ołowska has had major solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw. In the last six years, she has also presented performances at Tate Modern, London, the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Ołowska has participated in numerous major biennales including Berlin and Istanbul in 2008 and the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and has participated in group exhibitions at significant institutions around the world. In January 2017, Ołowska presented Slavic Goddesses, a newly conceived ballet at The Kitchen, New York.
Supported by Connie Kimberley and Craig Kimberley OAM.
Electronic artist Lozano-Hemmer develops large-scale interactive installations in public space, usually featuring new technologies and custom-made physical interfaces, and employing robotics, projections, sound, internet and cell-phone links, sensors and other devices. His work spans kinetic sculpture, responsive environments, video installation and photography.
Redundant Assembly 2015 is an arrangement of several cameras that compose a live-portrait of the visitor from six perspectives simultaneously, aligned using face detection software. The resulting merged image is uncanny, detached from the laws of symmetry and the depth perception of binocular vision. If several visitors are standing in front of the work, a composite portrait of their different facial features develops in real time, creating a mongrel ‘selfie’.
Lozano-Hemmer’s work has been commissioned for high-profile events such as the Millennium Celebrations in Mexico City in 1999 and the United Nations’ World Summit of Cities in Lyon in 2003. His work has been shown in three-dozen countries, including at biennials in Venice, representing Mexico in 2007; Istanbul in 2001; and Sydney in 2006, amongst others. Lozano-Hemmer’s work is held in private and public collections internationally including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate in London. Among other accolades, Lozano-Hemmer has been awarded two BAFTA British Academy Awards for Interactive Art in London and the Trophée des Lumières in Lyon.
Reko Rennie’s commanding works explore his Aboriginal identity through contemporary interdisciplinary media including painting, aerosol, collage and installation. Combining the iconographic diamond-shaped designs of his Kamilaroi heritage with stylistic elements of graffiti and repetitive patterning, Rennie’s works offer novel ways of seeing Country that connect the past with the present to explore Indigenous culture and identity in contemporary urban environments.
For the NGV Triennial Rennie will undertake two new large-scale site-specific works that intervene within the urban and architectural landscape of Melbourne; one at the famous flower clock on St Kilda road using his signature patterning expressed as landscape and the other in the interior of the NGV International. Each site alludes to the other – connecting the NGV International to Alexandra Gardens across St Kilda Road both spatially and conceptually. Each work will explore notions of time, history, movement and identity, inviting the viewer to travel back through time and within physical space.
Informed by 1980s American culture, Rennie started his practice as a teenage graffiti artist, finding his voice on the surfaces of Melbourne city’s buildings, trains and laneways. Since his first solo shows in 2009, Rennie has staged seventeen one-person exhibitions of his work in Australia, Indonesia, the USA and France and numerous group exhibitions worldwide.
Australian artist Richard Giblett’s vast gouache triptych, Sump system 2015–16 imagines a bleak landscape made up of objects and buildings that inhabit a grey area between detritus and architecture. Stretching over six meters is his staggering ‘concrete’ network of slab buildings, tower blocks and conduits. Alienating and oppressive in their indifference, and intermittently capped with global brand name logos – Hilton, Ikea, McDonald’s, Chanel – the whole rises from (and contributes back to) a slick of glossy black oil; every pipe and structure mirrored ominously in the inky black ground.
Known for his exacting and immaculate renderings of architectural elements and structures interconnected into sprawling geometric networks, Giblett’s futuristic, industrial sculptures, paintings, drawings and collages embody a critique of the capitalist and consumerist forces that shape them. Giblett’s glibly detached and painstaking style itself simulates the callous efficiency of the capitalist machine.
Giblett has held solo exhibitions at significant Australian institutions including the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth in 2006 and Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne in 2004. His work has been exhibited at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2011; the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2005 and 2009); and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, 2006, among others. Giblett’s work is represented in significant Australian and international collections including Artbank, Australia; the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; the Besen Collection, Melbourne; and Chanel Ltd, Paris.
Supported by the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists.
Employing a new long-range thermal imaging camera developed for military use with the ability to record subjects up to 50 km away in total darkness – Richard Mosse has created a profoundly moving new work capturing events surrounding the bombing of Syria and the flood of refugees from this intractable conflict.
Working with cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, sound designer Ben Frost and writer John Holten, Incoming 2015–16 is realised as an immersive multi-channel audio-visual installation. Mosse’s footage incorporates images shot on an aircraft carrier operating in the Persian Gulf, the beaches of Lesbos – a key arrival point for refugee boats to Europe – and the Idomeni refugee camp on the Greek-Macedonian border as well footage from Macedonia, Turkey and Northern Iraq.
With applications for border surveillance and search and rescue, Mosse’s camera renders skin-colour imperceptible, but can literally read life and proximity to death, registering heat radiation as optical flare that makes his subjects glow with life-giving heat. The camera depicts people in an acutely unfamiliar way, effacing distinctive features such as pupils, to elicit a tension between alienation and intimacy. Mosse feels this ambivalent tension has the potential to transcend overfamiliar narratives and tell this urgent story in a more meaningful way. Co-commissioned by NGV and the Barbican, London, this compelling new work has been acquired or the Collection and will be presented alongside groundbreaking images of refugee camps, with an aesthetic that combines Western and Eastern art-historical landscape traditions.
Mosse currently has a major presentation of Incoming, as a multi-channel video installation at The Curve, Barbican, London. In 2013, Mosse represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale and he has also exhibited work at the Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; the Dublin Contemporary Biennial, Dublin; and the Tate Modern, London, amongst other significant institutions worldwide.
Supported by Chris Thomas AM and Cheryl Thomas, Jane and Stephen Hains, Vivien and Graham Knowles and the 2016 NGV Curatorial Tour Group.
Emerging artist Riley Payne has described his images and texts as expressions of ‘mild absurdity, overt romanticism, false sincerity, ubiquity’.6 By re-rendering existing images in a labour intensive drawing process, Payne attempts to momentarily stem the tide of visual information that assails us daily. His graphite drawings utilise often jarring combinations of mundane stock imagery (pre-loaded with market research psychology), text frequently referencing popular songs and just-familiar shapes. These incongruities encourage new relationships to surface between language and image, through humour, subversion and re-contextualization.
Payne’s graphite drawings are photo-realist in their meticulous rendering of objects and textures. The three drawings exhibited in the NGV Triennial contain areas of unmarked negative space that disrupt each image by drawing attention to the materiality of the exposed paper and the artifice of the picture. Each is an attempt to reconcile the mundane with the magical. A season for every day 2015 depicts a sunflower, a recurring motif in Payne’s work, overlaid with the words ‘everyday voodoos’ as if to suggest that some sorcery might originate within the petals of a showy flower. Rub 2015 depicts a pair of hands massaging a foot – an advertisement for a foot rub ruptured by the ambiguity of an enigmatically simple mark on the subject’s big toe and remedy 2 2015 is a close-up view of a piece of toast with baked beans, a sausage and fried eggs forming a greasy breakfast face.
In 2011, Payne was a finalist in the RBS Emerging Artist Award, and in 2014 he held an Artspace residency in Sydney. Payne has held six solo exhibitions since 2008; his most recent show rub was Payne’s debut exhibition at Tolarno Galleries. Since 2015, Payne has lived and worked in New York.
Supported by the Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists.6 Quoted in John Thompson, ‘Riley Payne: Humour, profundity and hard labour’, Vault, Nov. 2015, p. 57.
The NGV Triennial will premiere Ron Mueck’s largest work to date, Mass 2017, commissioned by the NGV.
The work can be read as a study of mortality; a dwarfing of the visitor by those who have lived before.
The dialogue between the past and the present is extenuated by the immersive and monumental scale of this significant new work.
Born in Melbourne in 1958, Mueck has been based in the United Kingdom since 1986. Mueck has explored the possibilities of the human form, first as a special-effects worker creating photo-realistic props and animatronics for the film and advertising industries (under pioneering puppeteer Jim Henson) and then later as an artist. Mueck had breakthrough early success with the landmark exhibition Sensation: Young British artists from the Saatchi Collection 1997–99.
The overwhelming public response to his work has since led him to be seen as Australia’s most successful contemporary artist internationally, with his work shown throughout the world.
Sascha Braunig is renowned for her small-scale oil paintings immaculately rendered in luminous palettes with a distinct visual language informed by the legacies of Op-Art and Surrealism. Three of the four related works, exhibited in the NGV Triennial, Monad, Saccades and Troll (all 2014) use the conventions of portraiture as a departure point and contain strange, humanoid figures that the artist refers to as ‘Ur-characters’ or ‘blanks’.7 The fourth work, Herm 2 2016, features undulating folds of pink and brown that loosely suggest the form of a human body. To form the basis for her paintings, Braunig fashions rudimentary forms from clay, sometimes draped with cloth and sequins, and then illuminates them with dramatically coloured directional lighting.
Braunig’s works reflect upon illusion and the surface of the represented subject. In dream-like scenes where repetition and patterning are foregrounded, her figures appear to emit an extrasensory glow, flaring with reflected colour. Foreground, background, and figure often merge, as if the subject is expanding into, yet also constrained by, the frame of the painting.
Braunig has held solo exhibitions with Foxy Production, New York in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and in February 2015 was one of the artists included in Surround Audience, the New Museum Triennial curated by Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin. In 2008, Braunig was awarded the Robert Schoelkopf Traveling Fellowship and has held residencies at Vermont Studio Center Residency Program in 2010 and The MacDowell Colony in 2013.7 Quoted in Hannah Ghorashi, ‘Sascha Braunig Enters the Void:
A Q & A’, Art News, 13 Mar. 2015.
jewellery that conjures the beauty of a flawlessly engineered machine. O’Connell will exhibit a series of rings in the NGV Triennial, made from copper, gold, tantalum, bone, hair, wax, ceramic and meteorite in a uniform design combined with photographic images of the sparks these rings discharge when subjected to pulses of high voltage electricity.
To capture each ring’s electrical ‘signature’ it is placed onto orthographic film and exposed through an electric field generated between ring and film holder. The series, titled Spark Rings 2015, is a study into the electric potential energy of material that offers insight into the structure and character of matter, as revealed by the flow of electricity through each material and the patterning of electrical arcs it gives off. O’Connell’s jewellery pieces are elegantly unassuming expressions of energy and materiality.
O’Connell studied Jewellery and Object Design at the Australian National University as well as Gold and Silversmithing at the Sydney College of the Arts where he is currently undertaking study towards his doctorate. O’Connell’s work features in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.
Untitled (Rock) 2012–15 is a major new work by Shilpa Gupta fusing thousands of microphones into an ominous, black, amorphous mass. This dramatic installation is accompanied by a multi-channel audio work emitting choral and spoken performance of a poem written by Gupta imagining a world in which people are free to move without borders. Acquired for the Collection, the work is the largest sculpture the work produced by the artist to date.
Untitled (Rock) continues the artist’s investigations into arbitrary border-making in post-partition India and specifically, into Bangladeshi enclaves; small villages or tracts of land that exist as Bangladesh sovereign areas within the Indian state. The lives of inhabitants within these enclaves are highly regulated; the borders between enclaves and surrounding India are difficult to perceive yet navigating them is legally fraught.
With transcultural relevance, Gupta’s work interrogates assumed structures, focusing on zones in which material and imagined definitions and divisions are played out, be they at borderlines, within labels or built into ideas of censorship and security.
Regarded as one of the most outstanding artists of her generation in India, Gupta has participated in numerous notable international exhibitions including her shared national representation of India-Pakistan at the Venice Biennale in 2015, the Younger Than Jesus Triennial at the New Museum, New York in 2009 and biennales in Lyon, 2009; Gwangju, 2008; and Sydney, 2006, among others.
Her work has been exhibited in major international institutions including the Tate Modern, 2001 and Serpentine Gallery, 2008 in London; Centre Pompidou in Paris, 2011; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, 2010.
Supported by the Loti and Victor Smorgon Fund.
With her personal library of 7,000 smells and 2,500 molecules, Sissel Tolaas can replicate the scent of outer space, a First World War battlefield and a homeless person. Tolaas is a smell designer, artist, chemist, researcher and odor theorist working amid research, commercial and creative innovation. Smell is Tolaas’s medium, but her interest is not a conventional approach to scent; for Tolaas, smell is information.
For the NGV Triennial we ask Tolaas, ‘what if smell was the starting point to how we viewed or memorised our city?’ Tolaas’s new work – to be acquired by the NGV – is the smell of our city. Tolaas will reveal through this work that smell is a crucial sense to be used and understood so that audiences might reconsider how they use smell, and how we remember time and place. Stemming from a desire to counter the ‘continuous wholesale deodorization’ of the world, Tolaas composes provocative smells to stimulate memory, recreate place, capture seasonality and arouse emotional and intellectual responses. She simulates complex and often transgressive olfactory experiences to enhance smell sensibilities.
Born in Norway but currently based in Berlin, Tolaas studied mathematics, chemical science, languages and visual art in Norway, Poland, Russia and the United Kingdom. In 2004, with support from International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (IFF), Tolaas founded the SMELL RE_searchLab, a workspace to research, develop and execute smell-related projects for institutional, educational and individual clients.
Rich in narrative and heavy in irony, Tala Madani’s incisive paintings depict darkly comic and often theatrical mise en scénes in which bald, middle-aged men engage in absurd scenarios that fuse playfulness with violence and perversity. The NGV has acquired two outstanding new works for the NGV Triennial by this compelling young artist.
Smiley has no nose 2015 depicts three men in underwear, holding their noses before representations of three yellow smiley faces. Trying in vain to mimic their happy counterparts, the men’s efforts to disguise the conspicuous organs that distinguish them invoke a host of Freudian anxieties. Primer 2015 depicts a split scene in which two men seated at a park picnic table become disgusted and humiliated as a member of a cheerful neighboring party expresses milk over them from her breast. In each painting, any presupposed power and standing of the men is undermined, offering a nuanced critique of gendered power relations, privilege and emasculation.
Madani upsets art-historical conventions, openly embracing caricature, gags, and disarming simplicity. Her approach to figuration demonstrates a decidedly contemporary sense of sequencing, movement and speed, finding some of its most powerful echoes in cartoons, cinema and other popular durational forms.
Madani moved from Tehran to the United States in 1994. She has exhibited widely in North America and Europe and her work has featured in major international group exhibitions including Made in L.A. at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles in 2014; the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011; Greater New York at MoMA P.S.1, New York in 2010; and The Generational: Younger Than Jesus at The New Museum, New York in 2009.
Supported by Michael Schwarz and David Clouston, and Karen McLeod Adair and Anthony Adair.
For the NGV Triennial, teamLab will premiere a new interactive and fully immersive digital installation inspired by human, digital and spatial relationships and connections, commissioned by the NGV. Expressing these themes through the turbulent lens of the vortex, teamLab will transform a large gallery space into an enveloping environment of swirling illumination that responds as water would to human presence and movement. This work, inspiring a sense of awe and wonderment in the viewer, melds digital design with contemporary art practices to extend teamLab’s explorations into the digitsation of natural phenomenon.
Founded by Toshiyuki Inoko, teamLab is an art collective and interdisciplinary creative group based in Tokyo, Japan comprising over 300 members. Identifying as ultratechnologists, teamLab collaborate with leaders in various fields of digital practice including artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, architects, web and print graphic designers and editors.
The group has presented over 150 digital projections, works of art and immersive installations since their inception in 2001. They co-curated Singapore’s ArtScience Museum permanent exhibition FUTURE WORLD: WHERE ART MEETS SCIENCE in 2016 and in the same year, delivered a 1,860 square metre installation Living Digital Space and Future Parks, in California in collaboration with Peace Art + Technology.
Born in Germany to Iranian and German parents in 1972, Timo Nasseri is an inheritor of Western and Eastern cultural practices and traditions. Nasseri explores both the material and immaterial dimensions of the languages of mathematics, architecture, Islamic patterning and Farsi culture through his rich sculpture and drawing practice.
The NGV has commissioned Nasseri’s largest and most complex reflective sculpture to date, presenting it for the first time in the NGV Triennial. Created from highly polished stainless steel, like others in his Epistrophy series, visitors will find themselves reflected and refracted into complex patterns drawn from traditional Islamic muqarnas, a form of architectural ornamented vaulting. Nasseri uses mathematical formulae to transform traditional designs into new arrangements for the production of ambitious sculptural experiences that embody the universal logics of sign systems.
Although trained as a photographer, Nasseri has become increasingly renowned as a multidisciplinary artist whose practice includes photography, sculpture and drawing. He participated in the Abraaj Group Art Prize in 2011 and the Drawing Room Biennial at London’s Drawing Room Gallery in 2015.
Supported by Rose Downer and John Downer AM.
Tom Crago is the CEO and owner of internationally renowned video game developer Tantalus, a Melbourne based studio with more than forty highly acclaimed titles to its credit, including a handful of million-unit sellers. For the NGV Triennial Crago and his team at Tantalus will premiere a groundbreaking multi-player gaming environment featuring a fifteen-minute, utterly immersive virtual reality art game. Wearing head mounted displays, participants will navigate a play space that comprises a huge wooden ship at sea. Taking to the virtual oceans, players will
follow aural cues to collect fragments of cloth to form a huge sail. In the process, each participant will create their own original work of art, to ultimately hoist their sail and set off on their journey and complete the game.
Within this project Crago explores the convergence of contemporary art and digital design – bridging the latest virtual reality systems and hardware design. Making the project truly collaborative and cross-disciplinary, Tom has ensured that every aesthetic element of the game is created by a living Australian artist – including Mark Rodda, Viv Miller, Indigo O’Rourke, William Mackinnon, Kate Tucker and David Shea (audio).
Representing a personal project already three years in develop-ment (incorporating a PhD at VCA, University of Melbourne), Crago’s innovative approach to gaming engages players through art in a poetic investigation into the human psyche.
In addition to Tantalus, Crago also owns and runs sister studio Straight Right, which has worked on some of the games industry’s biggest franchises including Mass Effect, Deus Ex and Need for Speed. His book, Flashbacks from the Flow Zone is published internationally by Hardie Grant.
As part of its commitment to emerging artists from our region, the NGV has commissioned Uji Handoko Eko Saputro (aka Hahan) to produce his largest sculpture to date – an ambitious and important new work for the NGV Triennial.
Hahan creates dynamic and colourful paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints that combine the aesthetics of traditional Javanese mythology with popular youth culture and underground comics. His works illustrate a point of tension between the local and the global that both critique and admit complicity with the mechanisms of an expanding global art market. His works wittily address themes of rejection and success, critical acceptance and commercial gain.
For the NGV Triennial, Hahan’s work Young speculative wanderers 2014–15 consists of three paintings, each with ornately sculpted frames held up by life-size, cartoon-like sculptures of figures abstracted from traditional religious and mythological iconography. Some are clown-like, others have animal heads and their clothes bear ironic slogans relating to the machinations of the international contemporary art world. The paintings include references to artists and the sale of their work to voracious collectors. One depicts the facade of NGV International, with hallowed steps leading up to the Waterwall like a temple.
Hahan has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Indonesia and abroad, including the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane in 2012. He has also collaborated in a range of collectives and bands, the best known of which is the art-collective/rock-band PUNKASILA, which he co-founded with Australian artist Danius Kesminas. PUNKASILA participated in the Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane in 2007 and the Havana Biennial, Cuba in 2009.
Hahan is also founder and an active member of Ace House Collective, an artist collective based in Yogyakarta which is active in the field of youth-pop culture, emphasising, through theory and practice, an exploratory approach to the possibilities of visual art.
Dutch design and art collective We Make Carpets is known for recognising the possibilities found in familiar household and everyday items – plastic forks, chalk, paper clips, dry pasta, wooden toothpicks – to be transformed into new and surprising installations. A recent installation as part of the contemporary design exhibition Dream Out Loud 2016 at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, comprised tens of thousands of florescent cocktail stirrers, decorative paper umbrellas and metallic-tassled cocktail sticks arranged into a spectacular environment of colourful wall murals and floor works.
We Make Carpets will develop a large-scale interactive project especially for children and families, that will transform the Gallery’s dedicated children’s space. Introduced to the collective’s innovative and creative approaches to domestic objects and familiar materials, young participants will be mesmerised by the richly patterned installation and inspired to create new patterns of their own using an array of found objects – encountering the collective’s unconventional approach firsthand.
We Make Carpets came together when designers Marcia Nolte and Stijn van der Vleuten joined forces with artist Bob Waardenburg to create an installation for Dutch Design Week in 2009. The design collective’s ephemeral installations have been exhibited widely in the Netherlands and Europe especially for design and art events, museums and galleries. This children’s exhibition will be the artists’ first in Australia.
Xu Zhen is a leading international contemporary artist whose works often take the form of immense sculptural installations that address Eastern and Western assumptions about Chinese art and the global art market.
Especially created for the NGV Triennial (and entering the Collection), Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana … 2016–17, is a monumental installation that combines replicas of famous Western and Buddhist classical sculptures. Zhen uses the colossal form of a reclining Buddha dating from the High Tang Dynasty (705–781) as the base upon which to perch replicas of various renowned Greco-Roman sculptures. The remarkable and imposing sculptural installation forms part of Zhen’s ongoing Eternity series which immortalises classical master-pieces and merges disparate cultural heritages to transcend history and difference.
Zhen has worked across video, photography, performance, painting, sculpture, installation and curation. He won the China Contemporary Art Award in 2004 and participated in the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001. In 2009, Xu Zhen established MadeIn Company, a contemporary art corporation focused on creative production and devoted to ‘the research of contemporary culture’s infinite possibilities’. In 2013, MadeIn Company launched the brand ‘Xu Zhen’. A provocative conceptual artist, Xu Zhen has been called ‘the Maurizio Cattelan of China’.
Supported by the Loti and Victor Smorgon Fund.
Shinjuku Station is the world‘s busiest train station and the compelling subject of Yukihiro Yamagami’s recent large-scale ‘canvas projection’ Shinjuku calling 2014. Yamagami is best known for this original and intriguing technique that combines drawing and film by projecting footage of a locale over a meticulously detailed pencil drawing on canvas of the same location.
Shinjuku calling depicts a streetscape alongside the station with pedestrian crossing, neon-adorned buildings and elevated railway tracks and hoarding. Ghostly footage of passing pedestrians, trains and traffic fades in and out against this backdrop as delicately changing light effects transform day into night.
With their combination of static and moving imagery, Yamagami’s canvas projections explore the immutable and the transitory in the urban and natural environment. His works provide complex, multifaceted evocations of place that are often imbued with a melancholic or nostalgic air as they contend with the passage of time.
Over the past fifteen years, Yamagami has held fifteen solo exhibitions, primarily in Kyoto, and has been included in several group exhibitions in public galleries and museums in Japan. In 2008, Yamagami was awarded the Okamoto Taro Award for Contemporary Art.
Supported by Esther Frenkiel OAM and David Frenkiel.
Yayoi Kusama has become one of the most celebrated and prolific living artists in the world today. With a practice encompassing performance, experimental film, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, fashion, literature, and public spectacles (or ‘happenings’) over some sixty years, Kusama has been widely acknowledged as a major influence on several generations of contemporary artists.
Renowned for her vibrant, immersive installations that explore the concept of the infinite, Yayoi Kusama uses obsessive patterning to reference a series of optical hallucinations she had as a young girl that came to define her life and idiosyncratic style.
Kusama is collaborating with the NGV to create a new work for the NGV Triennial which has been acquired for the Collection. This unique participatory work for children and families invites visitors to enter the world of the artist. Flower obsession 2016–17 recreates a furnished domestic space inside the gallery within which visitors are invited to apply flower stickers and plastic three-dimensional flowers to the walls, floor and objects. Over the course of the exhibition the proliferation of flowers will gradually cover all of the surfaces, ‘obliterating’ them.
Kusama’s recent notable projects include major touring retro-spectives, her largest in Europe and North America in 2011 was presented at Museo Naçional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Whitney Museum, New York. In 2006, Kusama received Japan’s highest ordinarily conferred honour – the Order of the Rising Sun. In 2008, she was conferred with the order Person of Cultural Merits in Japan. In 2013, Kusama was awarded The American Academy of Arts and Letters Foreign Honorary Membership.
Supported by the NGV Women’s Association.
Zanele Muholi is a photographer and ‘visual activist’ best known for having produced more than 250 portraits of black lesbian women and trans men in South Africa. Muholi’s body of work stands as a courageously defiant archive and challenge to widespread discrimination in the region.
The three works included in the NGV Triennial are from Muholi’s powerful series Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the dark lioness) 2016. In this series, Muholi turns the camera on herself, creating daring self-portraits as commentary on the political and cultural issues that affect the LGBTIQ community in South Africa. In each, Muholi presents herself darkened with makeup and adorned with domestic objects: scouring pads, safety pins and cables. Her poses reference a history of photography in Africa in which portraiture presented the exotic ‘other’ to European audiences,
or was the tool of ethnographers. In Muholi’s photographs her direct engagement with the camera, and in turn the viewer, is confronting and captivating, leaving no option but to face the fearsome gaze of the lioness.
Muholi co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women in 2002, and in 2009 established Inkanyiso – a forum for queer and visual activists. Her work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Africa, Europe and the North America including Documenta 13, Kassel in 2012 and Bienal de São Paulo in 2010 as well as solo presentations at the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna in 2006 and the Brooklyn Museum, New York in 2015. She received the Casa África award for best female photographer in 2009.
2017 NGV ARCHITECTURE COMMISSION
The 2017 NGV Architecture Commission will premiere to coincide with the NGV Triennial. The third in an annual series of temporary architectural structures commissioned to activate the Grollo Equiset Garden, the NGV Architecture Commission encourages architects to design a participatory, evocative and thought provoking work of temporary architecture.
In 2017, the NGV Architecture Commission explores the intersections and resonances between and across related design and adjacent sectors. Participatory in nature, it engages audiences with the dynamic forces that shape the world around us.
Through this commission the NGV seeks to explore and reveal progressive thinking and approaches to activation and audience engagement; new propositions in architecture and design; and innovation in material use, fabrication, technology and sustainability.
The 2016 NGV Architecture Commission was designed by M@ STUDIO Architects (2016) who transformed the Grollo Equiset Garden with a playful and ephemeral reinvention of the suburban car wash titled Haven’t you always wanted...?. The inaugural Architecture Commission was presented in 2015 by John Wardle Architects, who designed an exuberant pavilion of steel, timber and hand-formed textile elements.
NGV TRIENNIAL RESEARCH
Five global themes that impact the world
Hundreds of conversations and ideas
The NGV has created an editorial platform to engage local and international commentators from diverse backgrounds to explore the NGV Triennial exhibition themes of Body, Change, Movement, Time and Virtual. This unique project will present a network of ideas – as they are manifested in the real world – by hundreds of respondents. Within the heart of the NGV Triennial, these ideas will be accessible through an immersive lounge space created by Büro North for audiences to experience during their visit to the NGV Triennial.
Through interviews, texts, podcasts, film and other visual material, visitors will be able to curate their own experience of the exhibition themes through their interactions within the lounge. The project aims to reflect the diverse world we inhabit today and the changes and ideas that will shape our future.
The University of Melbourne will celebrate the interdisciplinary nature of the NGV Triennial with a range of leading academics commissioning new material for this project alongside local and international respondents.
NGV Triennial has been made by the support of donors whose early commitment has provided crucial encouragement, and we extend our sincere gratitude for their generosity:
NGV TRIENNIAL CHAMPIONS
Alfred Felton Bequest
Loti & Victor Smorgon Fund
NGV Women’s Association
NGV TRIENNIAL LEAD SUPPORTERS
Michael & Emily Tong
Fox Family Foundation
Rose Downer & John Downer AM
Orloff Family Foundation
Bruce Parncutt AO & Robin Campbell
NGV TRIENNIAL MAJOR SUPPORTERS
Connie Kimberley & Craig Kimberley OAM
Peter Clemenger AO & Joan Clemenger AO
Len & Elana Warson
Michael Schwarz & David Clouston
Karen McLeod Adair & Anthony Adair
The Gordon Darling Foundation
Norma & Stuart Leslie Fund
NGV TRIENNIAL SUPPORTERS
Vicki Vidor OAM & Peter Avery
Cameron Oxley & Bronwyn Ross
Chris Thomas AM & Cheryl Thomas
Jo Horgan & Peter Wetenhall
Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade
MAB Corporation Pty Ltd
Bowness Family Foundation
John McCaughey Memorial Prize Trust
Esther Frenkiel OAM & David Frenkiel
Brendan & Grace O’Brien
Jane & Stephen Hains
Vivien & Graham Knowles
Andrew & Geraldine Buxton Foundation
Michael & Janet Buxton
Victorian Fund for Living Australian Artists
Sarah & Ted Watts
The Trawalla Foundation
Leigh Clifford AO & Sue Clifford
John & Cecily Adams
Nick Perkins & Paul Banks
NGV Supporters of Contemporary Art
Suzanne Dawburn Bequest
Ruth Margaret Frances Houghton Bequest
Donald Russell Elford & Dorothy Grace Elford Bequest