Biennial Lab rewrites public art rules for Melbourne Festival

Public Art Melbourne Biennial Lab Field Theory 9000 minutes 2016Eight experimental artworks from the City of Melbourne’s Public Art Biennial Lab, that have rewritten the rules of public art will be a highlight of the Melbourne Festival when they activate the Queen Victoria Market: 17 – 23 October 2016.

The Melbourne Biennial Lab was convened by the City of Melbourne, with leading public art visionaries Claire Doherty MBE, Director, Situations, and Professor David Cross, Deakin University. The temporary commissions are a result of a two-week intensive artists’ laboratory held at the iconic market in June under the curatorial framework: What Happens Now?

During the lab, participating artists reimagined ‘The New Rules of Public Art’. Published in 2013 by Situations, these rules acted as a catalyst for debate, fostering discussion about the role of public art. Responding to these original rules, Public Art Melbourne created a new list, The Melbourne Principles: New Rules for Public Art, while immersed in the Lab with artists at Queen Victoria Market.

Natalie King, Chief Curator said the artist’s input into a new set of public art rules allows creatives to imagine new possibilities for the city: “The new rules act as a counterpoint to the conventional view of public art, enabling artists to embrace place, community and situations in imaginative and intriguing ways,” said Ms King.

The Melbourne Principles – New Rules for Public Art are:
1. Address what is urgent.
2. Get unsettled.
3. Negotiate meaning, don’t explain it.
4. Process can be an outcome.
5. Look closer, and closer still.
6. Take time, give time.
7. Propose solutions through questions.
8. Know when to seek permission.
9. Come rain or shine, weather the storm.
10. Rules are for breaking.

The public presentation phase of the artworks takes place from Monday 17 to Sunday 23 October at various locations in the Queen Victoria Market and is accompanied by daily guided tours. The Biennial Lab will culminate in a finale day of artist-led workshops, talks, walking tours, performances and closing event on Sunday 23 October. Projects include:

Renowned Melbourne collective Field Theory are living, breathing and eating at the market for 9000 minutes from Monday to Sunday. They will broadcast non-stop radio throughout the week emanating from a vivid giant structure made from repurposed market boxes.

A Centre For Everything’s Gabrielle de Vietri and Will Foster have conducted extensive research into the non-verbal language and communication modes used in the market to make a hands on self-guided tour of gestures building a unique itinerary through the market.

Hiromi Tango will create a wrapped environment amongst the market stalls using fabric and mementoes to form a large, site-responsive sculptural form. This work refers to the way that market stalls are packed up each day and wrapped in hessian and rope. Tango’s colourful, undulating form also explores the sleeping brain through collaborating with the Florey Institute to investigate brain health and development.

Collaborative duo Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine have produced a stop-motion animation with sound based on trader stories with puppets and miniature models ushering us into the enchanting world of the market. Projected into the silver storage boxes from the market, the artists will be busily making figures nearby at a stall.

Kiron Robinson poetically infiltrates the market with a series of neon signs with the refrain “Upon this troubled sea I rest my head”, suggestive of change and constant movement, but also comfort and contentment.

The architectural group SIBLING has enveloped John Batman’s obelisk in the car park with an architectural folly that will move around in segments during the day, providing seating and a gathering place for visitors.

Steven Rhall explores the market’s orientation in relation to the Hoddle grid and Birrarung/Yarra River. Working with a 70 degree angle, he intervenes with mirrors, stripes, light and shadow in an area on the cusp of the car park and market shed: the result is quietly enveloping.

The Mechanics Institute explores the trade in ideas rather than products: a tongue-in-cheek enquiry into notions of value, production, authorship and ownership. Featuring a series of daily workshops, conversations and creative exchanges about “buying time”, their trade school will become an active and itinerant feature in the market.

Chair of the Arts and Culture Portfolio Councillor Rohan Leppert said the presentation of artists’ works at Queen Victoria Market during the Melbourne Festival was a major coup for Council. “Melbourne is one of the world’s cultural capitals and Council is committed to supporting artists as they explore new ways to push the boundaries of their creativity and artistic practice,” said Councillor Leppert.

“The Biennial Lab has facilitated artists’ access to some of the most distinguished art experts and the opportunity to develop daring and bold 21st century public art. I encourage anyone with an interest in public art to bear witness to these innovative projects when they come alive next month at the much loved Queen Victoria Market during the Melbourne Festival.”

The public presentation phase of the artworks takes place from Monday 17 to Sunday 23 October at various locations in the Queen Victoria Market as part of the Melbourne Festival accompanied by daily guided tours. The Biennial Lab will culminate in a finale day of artist-led workshops, talks, walking tours, performances and closing event on Sunday 23 October 2016.

For more information, visit: www.bienniallab.com for details.

Image: Field Theory, 9000 minutes 2016 (supplied)

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