Curator Lisa Slade takes her obsession with the Wunderkammer to a new level at the 2016 Adelaide Biennial. Meaning ‘a room of wonders’, Wunderkammer describes the private museums of the past that contained marvelous objects crafted by hand or by nature, which often appeared to be one thing but were in fact another.
Titled Magic Object – the 2016 Adelaide Biennial presents work by Australian contemporary artists that bedevils classification – art that arouses our curiosity to speak to contemporary concerns. The Biennial’s neo-Wunderkammer challenges viewers to consider a return to curiosity in art making in relation to our connection to the natural world.
Much of the work presented in Magic Object possesses a materiality akin to trickery or magic and offers audiences a return to wonder. Artists also indulge interests in the sacred, the talismanic, in cultural rituals and material riddles.
“I’ve invited artists to consider magic and object-hood and to explore how materials might speak to both artists and audiences,” said Curator Lisa Slade. “Much of the work presented in Magic Object looks like one thing but is really another, begging the question – are artists the last magicians?”
Inviting us into their own ‘cabinets of curiosity’ through photography, painting, performance, sculpture, installation and the moving image, will be artists Abdul-Rahman Abdullah (WA), Glenn Barkley (NSW), Chris Bond (VIC), Pepai Carroll (SA), Tarryn Gill (WA), Louise Haselton (SA), Juz Kitson (NSW), Loongkoonan (WA), Fiona McMonagle (VIC), Danie Mellor (NSW), Clare Milledge (NSW), Tom Moore (SA), Nell (NSW), Ramesh Mario-Nithiyendran (NSW), Bluey Roberts (SA), Gareth Sansom (VIC), Robyn Stacey (NSW), Garry Stewart & Australian Dance Theatre (SA), Jacqui Stockdale (VIC), Heather B Swann (ACT), Hiromi Tango (NSW), Roy Wiggan (WA), Tiger Yaltangki (SA) and Michael Zavros (QLD).
The 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art will unfold across and beyond Adelaide’s North Terrace to include the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, JamFactory, the Santos Museum of Economic Botany in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Carrick Hill.
Broadening its reach across multiple venues, the Adelaide Biennial aims to attract a larger and more diverse audience than ever before. Spread across these sites, Magic Object will offer a space where free associations and insights are made possible by artists and audiences, where artists can work their magic to enchant the viewer.
This enchantment, however, is not without caution – the Wunderkammer offers itself up as a tool with which not only to view the world, but to critique it.
The Vernissage weekend of the 2016 Adelaide Festival features free artist talks and lively panel discussions offering a Wunderkammer of perspectives on material and magical thinking, as artists and thinkers examine the juxtapositions that make the world itself a magic object.
2016 Adelaide Biennial: Magic Object
Various venues throughout Adelaide
Exhibition: 27 February – 15 May 2016
Vernissage Weekend: 26 – 28 February 2016
For more information, visit: www.adelaidebiennial.com.au for details.
Image: Hiromi Tango, Lizard Tail (breaking cycle) #3, 2015, pigment print on paper, 81 x 170cm. Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney