Sydney Biennale Highlights, From Interactive Architecture to Animated Aboriginal Paintings

Pinaree Sanpitak, "Anything Can Break," 2011 (installation view)
(Courtesy the Artist / Photo: Aroon Permpoonsopol)

SYDNEY — Although this edition of the Sydney Biennale has its flaws, it also includes some outstanding works of art that deserve a closer look. The exhibition is undoubtedly still a big success thanks primarily to the triumphant highlights, for which it's more likely to be remembered than the experience as a whole.

One of the most engaging and awe-inspiring works of the exhibition is Liu Zhuoquan’s "Two-Headed Snake," 2011, a huge collection of bottles whose insides have been painted with haunting silhouettes of snakes. Resembling scientific specimen jars, the ghostly images painted on the bottles' interiors represent objects that exists in spirit, but not in the flesh.

The overall range of video works selected for this edition of the Biennale is rather disappointing. There is, however, an outstanding example that makes up for the other less than engaging offerings. Guido van der Werve’s "Nummer Acht: Everything is going to be alright" (2007) makes use of the video medium to great effect with an incredible play on perspective that is thoroughly engrossing.

The groundbreaking use of animated black and white images on acetate to display the beautiful paintings of Aboriginal artist Nyapanyapa Yunupingu makes the work titled "Light Painting" (2010) one of the most beautiful and surprising offerings of the Biennale. As the different images slowly change over, blending and bleeding together, the viewer is treated to a truly spiritual experience of time and place.

Architecture meets art meets biology in Philip Beesley’s epic "Hylozoic Series: Sibyl" (2012) installation on Cockatoo Island. The amazingly complex structure is both a feat of engineering and a wonderfully artistic expression of a thought-provoking concept. Seeing visitors enthralled and amazed as the “interactive garden” comes alive in response to being touched and explored is an experience in its self.

To see a slideshow of the full top ten Sydney Biennale showstoppers, click the slide show.

This article appears on ARTINFO Australia.