Limber up for a cultural spectacle

Hold onto to your berets art aficionados, Sydney’s cultural scene is limbering up for an epic three months of exhibitions, installations, performances, talks, tours and workshops.

Kicking off this Friday is SafARI – a grassroots celebration of 16 emerging and unrepresented Australian artists, galleries and spaces that runs as the unofficial fringe event to Biennale of Sydney (unabashed in riding the Biennale’s more popular tailcoat). Speaking of Biennale, this year’s theme is ‘all our relations’ and will showcase a raft of awesome international and domestic talent hitting our galleries from next week.

With more paintings, installations, performances, talks and tours than you can poke your paint brush at, here’s our guide to the must see events at this year’s SafARI and the 18th Biennale of Sydney. The best part, it’s all free.

SafARI snapshot: 16 emerging and unrepresented Australian artists, three venues, a mobile bus and a raft of sound, performance, installation, sculpture, painting, photography and new media.

Get excited about BUS Projects an art adventure ‘on wheels’ featuring a special program of performances and happenings that will bring art out of the gallery and onto the street.

See Adele Varcoe’s  pop-up ‘fashion spectacles’ that attempts to unpack the motivations of the fashion-world and Rachel Park’s  exploration of domestic materials by creating astonishingly beautiful installations made from mass-produced jumbo-roll toilet paper.

Watch Jodie Whalen’s endurance performance practice by inhabiting the gallery space herself with her work Day Job and asking us to consider ideas of success and failure, obsessiveness and belief.

Taste Elizabeth Willing’s investigation into confectionary where she’ll lure audiences with an edible sculpture of woven sherbet-laced licorice.

18th Biennale of Sydney snapshot:  100 international and domestic contemporary artists’ works brought together by Artistic Directors Catherine de Zegher and Gerald McMaster, spread across the Art Gallery of NSW, Museum of Contemporary Art, Pier 2/3, Cockatoo Island and for the first time this year, Carriageworks.

At the Art Gallery of New South Wales Thai artist Nipan Oranniwesna explores the fragility of contemporary society with his ‘City of Ghost’ installation made from baby-powder and Beijing-based artist Gao Rong will create a life-sized sculptural replica of her grandparent’s living room using embroidery in a contemporary application.

Have a sticky beak around the MCA’s new spaces and see an impressive work by Pinaree Sanpitak (one of Thailand’s few internationally recognised female artists) – an installation of hundreds of origami cubes and breast-shaped glass clouds suspended from the ceiling. Illuminated by fibre optics, the cubes and clouds are lined with motion sensors that trigger music in response to the audience’s movement.

See Canadian artists Shuvinai Ashoona
and John Noestheden large-scale banner ‘Earth and Sky’ suspended above the cavernous space of Pier 2/3. And if you feel like getting your hands dirty, get involved with New Zealand-born artist Tiffany Singh who will invite visitors to decorate 1000 wind chimes and transport them to Cockatoo Island where they will be reinstalled as a collaborative work with the public.

Don’t miss out on seeing the work of Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya on Cockatoo Island, who will create one of her pioneering artificial fog sculptures alongside a cliff-face and Indigenous Australian (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi) artist Jonathan Jones who will create a shell midden from oyster shells and broken teacups, highlighting Sydney’s historical links with Aboriginal culture.

And for a Biennale first, stop by Carriageworks to see two Australian premieres by contemporary Belgian dance ensemble Rosas as well as a site-specific installation which will remain throughout the duration of the exhibition.

22 June – 15 July 2012

18th Biennale of Sydney
27 June – 16 September 2012

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