Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
From Dec. 19 — Apr. 18, 2021, the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne) will present the second edition of its Triennial, Australia’s largest and most important event for Art, Architecture and Design.
Featuring 86 projects by more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from more than 30 countries, the exhibition offers a visually arresting and thought-provoking view of the world at this unique moment.
UAE based designer and architect Talin Hazbar has been commissioned to present a new series of works. Her work titled Accretions 2020, is a brand new series of five evocative and intriguing light works, grown in the waters off the coast of Sharjah.
Born in Syria, Hazbar has spent her life in the UAE, a country she calls home. Last December, she was one of the first artists and designers to be granted a cultural visa (for 10 years) by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, part of the Government of Dubai’s recognition of her contribution to the local creative scene.
Accretions continues Hazbar’s ongoing enquiry into the capacity of the earth’s oceans to nurture life and organic processes capable of creating ornament, structure and form. Drawing on the natural systems of the ocean, where calcium accumulation and accretion is commonplace, she repeatedly submerges hand forged steel armatures to encourage the growth of molluscs, crustaceans and corals.
The calcium carbonate structures these life-forms construct on the surface of the armature, transform them into an ornate light shade. Through this process, each shade becomes a specimen of the specific ecologies, conditions and life-forms that inhabit the area of submersion.
In relinquishing control of this phase of production to natural processes, Hazbar offers an example of how, through respect and understanding of natural forces and systems, designers can work collaboratively with nature to grow structures and produce materials of great functionality and unique beauty.
Exploring some of the most globally relevant and pressing issues of our time, including isolation, representation and speculation on the future, NGV Triennial will present a large scale exhibition of international contemporary art, design and architecture.
Featuring works by Aïda Muluneh (Ethiopia) Alicja Kwade (Germany), Cerith Wyn Evans (Wales), Dhambit Mununggurr (Australia), Faye Toogood (England), Fred Wilson (USA), Hannah Brontë (Australia), Jeff Koons (USA), JR (France), Kengo Kuma (Japan), Liam Young (Australia), Misaki Kawai (Japan), Patricia Urquiola (Spain), Porky Hefer (South Africa) and Refik Anadol (Turkey), the triennial includes more than 30 major new world-premiere works especially commissioned by it for this exhibition.
Highlights include an entire floor dedicated to works concerning light and illumination presented in dialogue with the NGV’s historical collection; a monumental video work by Anadol spanning 10 metres high and wide, which uses artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and quantum computing to visualise our digitised memories of nature; and a larger-than-life mirror-polished sculpture of Venus, Roman goddess of love, by American artist Koons.
Further highlights include a comprehensive display of works by Yolngu woman Mununggurr, the first Yolngu artist to depict country in her signature shades of acrylic blue paint.
Comprising 15 large-scale bark paintings and nine larrakitj (hollow poles), some of which stand more than three metres high, the works have all been painted with the artist’s non-preferred left hand after an accident left her with limited mobility.
Kuma, one of the most respected figures in Japanese architecture, will collaborate with Melbourne artist Geoffrey Nees to create an architectural pavilion that acts as a sensorial walkway through which to approach and contemplate a newly acquired painting by South Korean artist Lee Ufan.
The work will be constructed from timber harvested from trees that died during the Millennium Drought at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens, some of which pre-date European colonisation.
Exploring the themes of daylight, candlelight and moonlight inspired by and within the context of the NGV’s seventeenth and eighteenth century Flemish, Dutch and British collections, interior designer Toogood will curate several gallery spaces creating a considered salon-style interior featuring newly commissioned furniture, lighting, scenography, sculpture and large-scale tapestries.
Also making its world premiere will be a work by renowned French artist JR, which brings global attention to the ecological decline of the Darling River. The work will comprise a chapel-like structure erected in the NGV Grollo Equiset Garden that features a set of large stained-glass window portraits of people he visited in the Sunraysia agricultural region of Victoria and New South Wales on a recent visit to Australia.
The exhibition is underpinned by four themes – Illumination, Reflection, Conservation, and Speculation – that invite audiences to embark on a journey of exploration and to discover the intersecting ideas through the works on display.
The four thematic pillars have emerged from the collective work presented in the triennial, illuminating the pressing concerns that preoccupy the artists, designers and architects of our time. Drawing on intimacy and awe, sadness and beauty, ruination and inspiration, these themes present a microcosm of the current world.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria said: “Artists, designers and architects of the twenty-first century perform a vital role in giving form to our collective imagination, fears and aspirations.
“We are all living in a world in flux: there has never been a more important moment to celebrate human capability than now”.
As creative disciplines become increasingly porous and interconnected, new systems, materials and technologies are rapidly changing the ways in which artists and designers can imagine and speculate on the future.
The NGV Triennial offers an inspirational platform to experience and consider how digital and emerging technologies are transforming the landscape of cultural production and industry.
The Jury, which independently selects the recipients of the US$ 1 million Award, will convene in January 2022 to select a shortlist from hundreds of nominated projects.
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