The 12-week biennial extravaganza of contemporary art is back to stimulate Sydney in 2012. There’s art to dazzle, daze and delight at the Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Pier 2/3, Cockatoo Island and, for the first time, Carriageworks. And it’s free.
Here’s Time Out’s selection of programme highlights.
Peter Robinson: 'Gravitas Lite'
Intrigued by the artistic possibilities of polystyrene foam, a material he identifies with our modern consumer culture, Auckland-based artist Peter Robinson installs a monumental pile of polystyrene chain links in Cockatoo Island’s Building 139.
Pinaree Sanpitak: 'Anything Can Break'
Art on the floor? Yawn. Thai artist Pinaree Sanpitak decorates the ceiling of the Museum of Contemporary Art with striking geometrical forms – hundreds of flying origami cubes interspersed with luminous glass breasts – as gallery visitors are serenaded with music.
Nipan Oranniwesna: 'City of Ghost'
A fragile and ephemeral “mystery city” materialises at the AGNSW courtesy of Bangkok artist Nipan Oranniwesna. With a razor blade as tool, Oranniwesna carves a sprawling metropolis out of lavender-scented Johnson & Johnson baby powder.
Featured last year in an exhibition in White Rabbit Gallery, Beijing-based artist Gao Rong’s ultra-detailed embroidered sculptures of domestic scenes challenge ideas of traditional Chinese handicraft. Here she brings a bit of Beijing to the AGNSW with an embroidered replica of her grandparent’s living room.
Postcommodity: 'Do You Remember When?'
In an act of Indigenous intervention, four Native American artists cut a four-foot square hole in the floor of the AGNSW to expose, quite literally, the land of the Gadigal people below. The artist collective also collaborates with local Aboriginal language speakers for the audio element of the work.
British/Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens takes over two spaces with her experiments of light, sound, fog, colour and the outer limits of perception: Cockatoo Island’s Turbine Hall and the Carriageworks foyer.
Honoré d’O: 'Air and Inner'
Belgian artist Honoré d’O turns everyday materials into spectacular artistic scenarios. Here, he takes that most exceptionally everyday of objects – paper – and uses it in giant, sweeping quantities to occupy much of the length, width and, impressively, height of the cavernous Pier 2/3 space.
Tiffany Singh: 'Knock on the Sky Listen to the Sound'
The collective experience of an art festival is likened to the collective experience of a religious ritual in this work by New Zealand-born artist Tiffany Singh. Visitors are invited to hand-decorate 1,000 chi-rousing bamboo wind chimes and usher them to Cockatoo Island.
Manipulating the weather runs in Fujiko Nakaya’s family: her physicist father is credited with having created the first-ever man-made snowflake in his lab. Nakaya herself specialises in site-specific fog ‘sculptures’. Some 36 years since she revealed her first artistic fog work at the second Biennale of Sydney in 1976, Nakaya will be fogging up Cockatoo Island. A truly mistifying Biennale spectacle.
Daan Roosegaarde: 'Dune'
In the words of artist Daan Roosegaarde himself, 'Dune', installed in Cockatoo Island’s Dog Leg Tunnel, is a little like ‘Alice in Technoland’: a dazzling optical fiber-illumined corridor that reacts to the motion and the sound of passersby, promoting every visitor to the status of performer.