The celebrated new Australian Pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale, attracted extraordinary international attention when it opened in May. Fiona Hall was commissioned to be the first artist to represent Australia in the new building with her exhibition Wrong Way Time, curated by Linda Michael. So far the exhibition has been seen by over 250,000 people.
“We are delighted to be able to offer all Australians the chance to see the work which represented our country at this major global arts event,” said Gerard Vaughan, NGA Director. “We are proud to be exhibiting Fiona Hall’s Venice installation along with a selection of her works from the NGA’s collection.”
“We hope this will become a regular feature of the Venice Biennale process, with each Australian exhibit returning to a major public gallery in this country. The NGA is very grateful to the many friends and supporters led by Simon and Catriona Mordant, Susan and Michael Armitage and John and Pauline Gandel who have provided financial support to ensure its presentation in Canberra.”
Established in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the world’s oldest and most prestigious biennale of international contemporary art. Notable for its dual exhibition model, the Venice Biennale comprises both a curated show and individual exhibitions of ‘national participations’.
Australia’s representation at the Venice Biennale began in 1954, and since then 36 distinguished contemporary visual artists have exhibited under the Australian banner. The Australia Council for the Arts owns the Australian Pavilion and manages Australia’s participation at the Venice Biennale.
Fiona Hall has said of her work that “The world is such an amazing place, yet sadly we are living in troubled times and that sense is reflected in a lot of the works, as suggested by the title of the exhibition Wrong Way Time. I am really very happy to have this exhibition, created for the Venice Biennale, travel to Canberra and hopefully seen by many people from around the country.”
In Wrong Way Time, Fiona Hall brings together hundreds of disparate elements which find alignments and create tensions around three intersecting concerns: global politics, world finances and the environment. In common with many of us, Hall sees these as failed states, as ‘a minefield of madness, badness and sadness’ stretching beyond the foreseeable future. Hall’s lifelong passion for the natural environment can be felt intensely in works that respond to our persistent role in its demise, or to the perilous state of various species.
Hall’s seemingly random conjunction of things in a wunderkammer-like installation appeals to our human impulse to make connections, or perhaps a propensity for paranoia born of the deep uncertainty and fear of our times. Yet despite a prevalent darkness, Hall’s exhibition is fundamentally life-affirming, its own vitality in perverse distinction to the subjects it ranges across, which provide rich pickings for Hall’s extraordinary transformation of materials, images and objects.
Fiona Hall’s Venice Biennale exhibition captured by the Google Cultural Institute can be seen here. Wrong Way Time opens at the National Gallery of Australia on 22 April 2016. For more information, visit: www.australiacouncil.gov.au or www.nga.gov.au for details.
Image: Fiona Hall, Wrong Way Time