The 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art will explore the underbelly of contemporary culture, with the title Dark Heart and work by more than 25 artists including Bill Henson, Patricia Piccinini and Ben Quilty.
Curator and Art Gallery of South Australia director Nick Mitzevich said Skywhale, the controversial hot-air balloon commissioned from “queen of the dark side of life” Piccinini, would make an appearance during the March 1-May 11 exhibition.
“This extraordinary Skywhale, in all its kind of gruesome and scale, will be flying over the city of Adelaide on the opening weekend of the Adelaide Biennial.”
In announcing the names of participating artists today, Mitzevich said the issues explored in Dark Heart would include inter-cultural relationships, gender, the environment, history and political power.
“I wanted to create an exhibition that was deeply moving, that was meaningful.
“The exhibition title Dark Heart is overtly populist; it’s meant to conjure up something in your head and that was my starting point.
“The notion of Dark Heart – probing the personal, the political and the psychological – is an important element to telling the story of Australian culture.”
Among the exhibiting artists will be Bill Henson, whom Mitzevich said would be presenting his first exhibition in a public gallery since the 2008 controversy surrounding his photographs of adolescents. Others include 2011 Archibald Prize winner Ben Quilty; film-maker and artist Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah); South Australian photographer Trent Parke; former Canberra-based tattooist turned watercolour artist eX de Medici, and multi-media artist Lynette Wallworth in a collaborative project with Martumili artists.
Tony Garifalakis will present a “contemplative and menacing series” looking at political leaders; male artists from Tjala Arts are working on a project exploring masculinity through art-making, and Julia deVille will exhibit an installation that combines a form of jewellery-making with taxidermy and is inspired by her feelings of being an outcast as a child.
Mitzevich said he wanted Dark Heart to be about storytelling and to delve into the things that make up Australian society.
“In a way, I’m saying contemporary art at the moment is very much about a return to the narrative, very much about a return to figurative art, very much about a return to aesthetics – that’s the point I’m making with this list [of artists]).
“Inherently, these people make work that attempts to make meaning of the world we live in; the works are inherently emotional and so what we will present to you is an inherently emotional exhibition that draws from all the things that are relevant to society today.”
In line with the biennial theme of difficult conversations, Mitzevich has chosen outspoken and often controversial academic and writer Germaine Greer to pen the lead essay in the catalogue that will support Dark Heart.
“I wanted someone that was polarising, that had an opinion and something to say. We’re interested in people with big ideas – ideas that aren’t necessarily limited by convention.”
Dark Heart, the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australia Art, is being presented in conjunction with the Adelaide Festival and will run at the Art Gallery of South Australia from March 1-May 11. The full list of participating artists announced today is: Brook Andrew, Del Kathryn Barton, Martin Bell, Ian Burns, eX de Medici, Julia deVille, Dale Frank, Tony Garifalakis, Fiona Hall, Bill Henson, Brendan Huntley, Kulata Project – Tjala Arts, Richard Lewer, Dani Marti, Trent Parke, Ben Quilty, Caroline Rothwell, Alexander Seton, Sally Smart, Ian Strange, Warwick Thornton, Lynette Wallworth and Martumili artists and Ah Xian.
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