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Flashback Friday: 16th Biennale of Sydney

Posted on 27 September 2013 in Flashback Friday, News
Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island plays host to an eclectic range of events, but in 2008 the Biennale of Sydney pioneered the use of the island as a large-scale visual arts venue.

Under the artistic direction of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Artistic Director of Documenta 13 and Art Review’s #1 in the 2012 power list) the 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008) saw thirty-nine artists take over the World Heritage-listed former shipyard and prison located in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

More than 453,000 people have visited the Biennale on Cockatoo Island since 2008 and with so many great works over the past three Biennales to remember we asked a few people in the office to tell us one of their highlights.

2008: 16th Biennale

William Cottam, Head of Finance and Administration

Highlight: William Kentridge, I am not me the horse is not mine, 2008

‘The multi-channel video work on the bleak walls upstairs in Building 123 worked perfectly in the context of Kentridge’s perspective on Russian modernism and the communist state, blame and guilt. The work’s setting was hugely atmospheric. The work combined animation, puppetry and photomontage and was comical to the casual eye, but to me it was insightful and bent with irony.’

William Kentridge, I am not me, the horse is not mine, 2008, lecture/performance for the 16th Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris; Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg; Annandale Galleries, Sydney. Photograph: Greg Weight

William Kentridge, I am not me, the horse is not mine, 2008, lecture/performance for the 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008) at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris; Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg; Annandale Galleries, Sydney. Photograph: Greg Weight

2010: 17th Biennale

Danielle Earp, Deputy Head of Exhibition

Highlight: Kader Attia, Kasbah, 2010

‘One of my favourite works from the 17th Biennale of Sydney was Kader Attia’s Kasbah. Attia created an expanse of rooftops from discarded and recycled materials including corrugated iron, timber offcuts and old tyres, which spanned a 350 square-metre space in Cockatoo Island’s Turbine Precinct.

Across the 12-week exhibition, thousands of visitors had the experience of stepping from roof to roof across the shanty town – dodging cast off tyres and satellite dishes and balancing on the slopping rooftops. The artist invited visitors to consider issues of worldwide poverty and inequality. For some, the experience was a moving and meaningful one, taking them out of their comfort zones. Others simply enjoyed the invitation to physically engage with contemporary art in a such a unusual setting.’

Kader Attia, <i>Kasbah</i>, (2010), wood, corrugated iron, tv antennas, satellite dishes, found materials, dimensions variable. Installation view of the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne and Berlin; and Galerie Krinizinger, Vienna. This project was made possible through the generous support of The Keir Foundation. Photograph: Sebastian Kriete.

Kader Attia, Kasbah, (2010), wood, corrugated iron, tv antennas, satellite dishes, found materials, dimensions variable. Installation view of the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist; Galerie Christian Nagel, Cologne and Berlin; and Galerie Krinizinger, Vienna. This project was made possible through the generous support of The Keir Foundation. Photograph: David Timperley

2012: 18th Biennale

Annika Kristensen, Exhibition and Project Coordinator

Highlight: Fujiko Nakaya, Living Chasm – Cockatoo Island, 2012

‘The fun in Fujiko Nakaya’s Living Chasm – Cockatoo Island for me, was watching other people’s reactions to it. It delighted kids, annoyed lunch-goers and confused unsuspecting passers-by. Vulnerable to the whims of the weather, the work was truly site-specific, changing every day – sometimes every hour – according to the conditions on the island.’

Fujiko Nakaya, Living Chasm – Cockatoo Island, 2012, water-fog, SUS foglines with 1000 nozzles, high-pressure pump and motor system, four electro-magnetic ball valves, anemometer and timer control system. Installation view of the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist. Project Team: Sayaka Shimada, Shiro Yamamoto, Hal Longhurst, Dave Sola (Mee Industries, Inc). This project was made possible through the generous support of Penelope Seidler AM and was assisted by Mee Industries, Inc. Photograph: Sebastian Kriete

Fujiko Nakaya, Living Chasm – Cockatoo Island, 2012, water-fog, SUS foglines with 1000 nozzles, high-pressure pump and motor system, four electro-magnetic ball valves, anemometer and timer control system. Installation view of the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012) at Cockatoo Island. Courtesy the artist. Project Team: Sayaka Shimada, Shiro Yamamoto, Hal Longhurst, Dave Sola (Mee Industries, Inc). This project was made possible through the generous support of Penelope Seidler AM and was assisted by Mee Industries, Inc. Photograph: Sebastian Kriete

Images from Cockatoo Island (2008 - 2012)

Related Links:

Flashback Friday: 17th Biennale of Sydney, BIG art 

Flashback Friday: 18th Biennale of Sydney in numbers