Adelaide Festival

Festival Review: Vernissage Weekend – Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art

With a unique line-up of artists, working in every medium from video to costume design to decoration, the Biennial really is a massive and modern Cabinet of Curiosity

Presented by 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art
Reviewed 28 February 2016

The Adelaide Biennial is one of Australia’s brightest and most wonderful celebrations of art. With a unique line-up of artists, working in every medium from video to costume design to decoration, the Biennial really is a massive and modern Cabinet of Curiosity (or, to use the proper German term: Wunderkammer!)

This Vernissage Weekend has ceremoniously opened the door to this fantastical, city-wide Wunderkammer, bringing together the inspirational minds and voices behind the featured artworks. Panel discussions and artist talks have given visitors of all stripes insight into the materials and magical thinking that go into the current exhibitions.

Four panel discussions were held over the weekend, in between the UniSA Hawke Building and the Radford Auditorium. Throughout the various and spirited discussions a number of interesting ideas kept popping up, those same ideas that run through the veins of the Magic Object exhibition.

Lola Greeno, Louise Haselton, Danie Mellor and Clare Milledge discussed the relationship between human and inanimate object, suggesting that such objects have a power and life of their own (something you can really sense yourself while walking through the exhibition). After that, Michelle Browne, Sandra Johnston, Destiny Deacon and Chris Bond delved into the resurgence of performative art.

On Sunday, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Glenn Barkley, Lisa Roet and Robyn Stacey tackled the nature of reality itself in their discussion on illusion within the arts, discussing how having our senses tricked forces us tune-in the ways in which we perceive the world. Finally, things came full circle with a discussion on curiosity with Nell, Heather B. Swann and Kate Rohde.

All of these artists really took off and ran with their respective panels, generating some really interesting and beautiful concepts and inviting lively discussion. It goes without saying, that any event like this is a going to be jam-packed with ideas and guaranteed to inspire. The Vernissage program definitely didn’t disappoint.

At the same time though, these panels weren’t the only thing on during the weekend! Robyn Stacey’s Camera Obscura, in North Terrace’s Institute Building, really gave visitors a chance to look at the world from a new angle. This simple invention, from as early as 300BC, traps and plays with light inside a dark room to bring the outside in, creating a rather trippy effect. Perfect for an exhibition dedicated to magical and entertaining wonders!

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to miss weekends like this, stuffed as they are into an already mad and jam-packed season! But don’t be sad if you missed the Venissage Weekend, it just means that the Biennial, with all its amazing colour, vibrancy and mystery, is now open. So be sure to get on down to town and soak up all the curious beauty you can!

The Adelaide Biennial 2016, Magic Object, features exhibitions at The Art Gallery of South Australia, Tandanya, Jam Factory, Australian Experimental Art Foundation and SASA Gallery, UniSA. For more information, click on the link to the Adelaide Biennial page below! The Biennial of Australian Art runs from the 27th of February to the 15th of March.

Reviewed by James Rudd
Twitter: @james_wrr

Adelaide Festival website


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