Newly commissioned projects by three Australian artists at the 52 International Art Exhibition, la biennale di Venezia – Susan Norrie, Daniel von Sturmer and Callum Morton – will highlight the diversity and depth of contemporary Australian art practice.
The new works will be located at three sites in Venice: Daniel von Sturmer will be located at the Australian Pavilion, Susan Norrie at Palazzo Giustinian and Callum Morton will create a site-specific work at Palazzo Zenobio.
Susan Norrie will explore the pervasive geopolitical issues of a planet in turmoil. The installation of four new videos will be physically immersive, using real and imagined precautionary tales to transport viewers toward an uncertain future. Norrie is committed to documenting the ‘truths of our experiences, not just simply erasing history and supporting a collective amnesia.’ The contradictory forces of nature, containing both an illusive beauty and a potential violence, are an ongoing metaphor for Norrie. Sequences of natural and manmade disasters are merged in her work and overlaid with mesmerising sound-scapes, and the new commission will continue the artist’s investigation into the tension between beauty and terror – between surface appearances and what may lie beneath.
For her Venice project, Norrie brings together images of environmental trauma and cultural belief. Focusing on the geographical region of Oceania, Norrie has followed the volcanic, seismic and climate disturbances which have wrought devastation to the Indigenous peoples of the area. Norrie’s work bears witness to a return to ancient rituals in response to mudslides, tsunamis, cyclones and volcanic eruptions.
Daniel von Sturmer will continue his ‘experiments with space’, through video installations and architectural interventions especially designed for the unique spatial architecture of the Australian Pavilion. These new works will test how it is we see what we see. von Sturmer said: ‘the unique spaces of the Pavilion will be brought into play in the new work, where video sequences will confound viewers’ sense of space, scale and orientation’. Platforms, objects and moving images will articulate the space and the ‘play of the perceptible will unfold and punctuate the pavilion’s membrane’.
His playful perception events have starred scrunched up balls of paper, disposable cups, sticky tape, a drinking glass and paper clips – miniature landscapes constructed of everyday materials. In his recent installation The Field Equation, 50 plinth-like platforms were built as ‘colonies of visual experiments’, through which the audience walked to encounter ‘ever unfolding linkages between visual things.’
Callum Morton is known for his large-scale, architecturally inspired installations. Stonewash transformed the exterior of a ruined building in Istanbul into a pristine Levis shop-front. Babylonia, a craggy floating island that hid a mysterious luxury hotel corridor, was an inspired fusion of James Bond, The Shining and Disneyland.
The new commission for 2007 on a disused football field at Palazzo Zenobio will further explore Morton’s interest in the relationships between private and public space, reality and illusion, interior and exterior. Morton will construct a ruined building, his childhood home: ‘torched, sutured together and shot through with holes.. a monument to all those skeletal forms left dangling after disaster strikes’. But this dilapidated domestic exterior is no ordinary ruin, it can be entered by the visitor to reveal an immaculate interior space, a corporate cavity where lifts light up and malfunction, screams are heard, seismic shudders are felt, and muzak soothes. Allusions to the catastrophe movies of Hollywood, ground zero, and various war zones are coupled with the traumatic site of domestic destruction.
The Australia Council for the Arts has managed and funded Australian representation at the Biennale for more than 30 years. Australia was first represented in 1954 by Sidney Nolan and has participated in every event since 1978 (except in 1984). Past Australian representatives have included Imants Tillers (1986), Bill Henson (1995), Judy Watson, Yvonne Koolmatrie, Emily Kame Kngwarreye (1997), Howard Arkley (1999), Lyndal Jones (2001), Patricia Piccinini (2003) and Ricky Swallow (2005).
John Kaldor AM is the 2007 Australian Commissioner and Juliana Engberg is the Senior Curatorial Advisor.
Australia at the 2007 Venice Biennale
Australia Council for the Arts
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