press release

TIME TRAVELLERS, ALIEN ENCOUNTERS, MUD QUEENS AND FLYING MACHINES... 15 May - 14 July 2002, 58 artists, 21 countries, 7 venues, 61 days

The Biennale of Sydney 2002, the southern hemisphere's largest festival of contemporary art, beams into Australia with (The World May Be) Fantastic. This year's exhibition looks at the fictional, the way artists explore and create worlds, futures, and characters that are hypothetical, fake, hallucinated and subversive.

"It's about how the fantastic collides with the real world... about invented systems and invented people, about countries and histories that may never have existed, about flying machines and strange museums, conspiracy theories, and new ways of reading the 'normal'." Richard Grayson, Artistic Director 2002

The 2002 exhibition invites you to view My Living Room is a Martian Base (Gilles Barbier, France), see Nixon in Chains (Jeffrey Vallance, USA), hear A Strange Message From Another Star (Veli Granö, Finland), experience the killing in the Muriel Lake Incident (Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Canada), visit a Public Toilet (Paul Noble, UK), say Hello (Aleksandra Mir, Sweden) to your 6 degrees of separation and meet Mister (João Penalva, Portugal) who looks remarkably like a talking shoe.

Grayson aims to energise and invigorate the City of Sydney with debate, discussion and sheer visual pleasure while providing avenues of escape from the mundane and opportunity for flights of pure fantasy.

Venues include the Museum of Contemporary Art, which again gives over its entire gallery space to the Biennale of Sydney, as do Artspace, Object galleries and City Exhibition Space, a new venue partner for 2002, at Customs House. The Art Gallery of New South Wales continues its 28 year history as a key venue and will also host film and video programs. The Sydney Opera House will host performances and a new work by Australian artist, James Angus. Mike Nelson, short-listed for the recent Turner Prize and one of the hottest contemporary artists from the United Kingdom, will create a new site-specific work especially for the Biennale of Sydney.

Admission to all venues is free as are the extensive public program events including the film and video program at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The ArtHouse Hotel will be the official relaxation stop for artists and participants.

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Richard Grayson has been a practising artist since 1979 when he was a founder member of the Basement Group (UK) - an artist initiative focused on time-based installation and performance work. His work has been shown at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Perspecta, 1989) the Melbourne Art Fair (1994 & 1996), Artpool, Budapest (1995) and Cleveland Lotta Hammer Gallery, London (1996).

Grayson has been assisted by an Advisory Panel of artists and writers comprising: Susan Hiller, a London-based American artist; Janos Sugar, an artist based in Budapest; and Ralph Rugoff, an art writer and curator from San Francisco. The panel was important in shaping the intellectual content and feel of the exhibition although selection and artistic decisions were determined by Grayson.

THE ARTISTS The strong Australian representation includes James Angus at the Sydney Opera House plus additional new works by David Haines, Peter Hill, Joyce Hinterding and Patricia Piccinini. Robert MacPherson appears in the guise of an 11-year-old boy, and Pope Alice/Luke Roberts will create an installation, Greetings from Amnesia: Mu Pavillion @ 4am. Adelaide-based Darren Siwes makes eerie self-portraits of a man who may not be there. Suzanne Treister explores the delusions of history and culture while H J Wedge paints pictures of the archetypal bogie man. From across the Tasman, New Zealand is represented by the artificial flowers and stuffed birds of Michael Parekowhai and by the thought provoking conspiracy theories of Michael Stevenson.

Vito Acconci heads a large contingent of American artists with his offering of architectural dreams. Eleanor Antin will perform as a black ballerina at The Studio of Sydney Opera House, and Chris Burden engineers bridges from Meccano. Paul Etienne Lincoln explores New York and creates hybrid mechanical compositions, whilst Jeffrey Vallance imagines Richard Nixon as one of his spirit guides. Jim Shaw glorifies the skills of unsung amateur artists by copying their works in his thrift shop painting series.

From the UK come Glenn Brown, with his huge dramatic landscape/spacescape paintings, and Dexter Dalwood who paints interiors of famous rooms into which he has never been invited. Paul Noble maps an imagined city known as Nob Town and Simon Patterson has created a new video work based on Houdini in Australia. Susan Hiller presents 1000s of speakers relating real stories of UFO contact, and Emma Kay creates a map of the world from memory and imagines the future. Mike Nelson completes the list with his new work constructed on site in Sydney. From Belgium, Patrick Corillon brings his storytelling Les Trotteuses and Panamarenko his fantastical submarine. Finnish artist, Veli Granö, imagines a visitor from the star Sirius, and French artist, Gilles Barbier, turns his living room into space machines. German artists, Nina Fischer & Maroan El Sani, photograph the traces and remains of powerful incidents using Kirlian photography, and Olaf Nicolai weeps for Narcissus.

Chinese artist, Cang Xin, illustrates his attempts to lick the world, literally, and Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba's underwater rickshaw divers race across the seabed. Other Japanese artists include Yutaka Sone and his gigantic dice, and Miwa Yanagi with her photographs inspired by 18 year olds imagining what they will be like at 80. Shirley Tse, from Hong Kong, is part airline pilot, part architect and part archaeologist with her intriguing polystyrene constructions. From Korea, Do-Ho Suh brings his delicate and ghostlike fabric rooms, and from Mexico, Miguel Angel Rios records extraordinary drug induced experiences of the other world in the Andes Mountains.

Sweden is represented by Aleksandra Mir who will be developing an Australian version of her Hello project of the famous and the less famous. Ann-Sofi Sidén's video delves into the psychology of the Mud Queen. Katarzyna Jozefowicz from Poland creates crowd carpets from magazine cut-outs and the mysterious Salon de Fleurus, curated by Marina GrÏiniç from Slovenia, poses a fictional history of art events. Portuguese artists include Joaõ Penalva with his talking shoe, Mister, and Vasco Araújo who dedicates his work to La Stupenda. Norwegian artist, Vibeke Tandberg, dresses up as her father in a photographic series called Dad.

PUBLIC PROGRAMS The Biennale of Sydney 2002 is complemented by an extensive series of Public Programs. There will be Australian and international artists talking about their ideas and their work. The famed American artist, Vito Acconci, will give a survey of his career and his architectural works, while Marina Grûiniç will talk about the fiction reconstructed in the Salon de Fleurus. Other international speakers include writers, critics, curators and visiting journalists. They will present their ideas on just what happens when the fantastic collides with the real world. Keynote speakers include Margaret Wertheim, a critically acclaimed science writer and commentator whose film, in collaboration with Cameron Allen, It's Jim's World...we just live in it, will be shown at the Sydney Film Festival. Jim Carter, the subject of this film, is an ex-abalone diver and gold miner who has invented a convincing new mathematical system of the universe complete with illustrations. Famous adolescent fiction writer, John Marsden will talk about the darkness and lightness in the fantastic worlds that he creates. Darren Tofts will discuss the influence of Argentine writer, Borges, in contemporary culture. Anne Marsh meditates on aspects of performance in contemporary photography. Saskia Bos, Maria Lind and Isabel Carlos are European curators who will present their ideas on what makes a successful international exhibition. There will be discussions about the differences and similarities between the actual and the virtual world in forums on fantasy, future fiction and illustration.

The Public Program will continue throughout the exhibition period, with a June visit from Celeste Olalquiaga, the internationally renowned writer from Venezuela, whose interests range from kitsch telephone sex advertisements to low budget 1950s futuristic movie fantasies. Per Gunnar Tverbakk, a Norwegian curator, will discuss new trends in Scandinavian art. These speakers will be part of the group of over 70 curators, artists and journalists who will visit Sydney in May-July 2002.

VIDEO PROGRAM As part of the Public Program, at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, there will be a new video program of recent works that reflect the wide range of styles and devices employed by contemporary artists making video. Curated by Emil Goh, this collection of short videos explores the unexpected, pranks, unseen behaviour, alternative personalities and fictitious scenarios. Using methods as simple as basic editing and camera angles, these artists have produced works that make us look at the world through different eyes. These are works made with a sharp eye and a keen sense of humour. They will be screened in the Centenary Theatre Auditorium on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

FILM PROGRAM As part of their regular free program, the Art Gallery of New South Wales will present films in conjunction with the Biennale of Sydney. Curated by Robert Herbert, they encompass rarely screened cinema classics, important documentaries, shorts and experimental film will be screened on Wednesdays and Sundays afternoons in the Domain Theatre.

Part One: TELL ME LIES... Historical feature films exploring the notions of the lie, the fake, the trick and the con, which work on many levels of fiction from parable to parody, offer surprisingly different views of reality and truth. Films to be screened include: Johnny Guitar, The Manchurian Candidate, The Grifters, Nightmare Alley, and Seconds.

Part Two: OTHER WORLDS Often created entirely from the imagination, and utilising models, miniatures, reconstructions and artificial sets, this collection of feature films and documentaries depicts fantastic cinematic worlds which have their own systems of logic and knowledge. Films to be screened include: Fantastic Voyage, Mysterious Performances of Master Qigong, Matthew Manning: Study of a Psychic, The Sapphire Room, Suna No Onna ("Woman of the Dunes"), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and The Thief of Bagdad (1940).

Pressetext, 12 MARCH 2002

only in german

Biennale of Sydney 2002
Richard Grayson, Artistic Director

mit Vito Acconci, James Angus, Eleanor Antin, Vasco Araujo, Gilles Barbier, Glenn Brown, Chris Burden, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Dexter Dalwood, Veli Granö, David Haines, Peter Hill, Joyce Hinterding, Robert MacPherson, Paul Noble, Michael Parekowhai, Joao Penalva, Patricia Piccinini, Michael Stevenson, Paul Etienne Lincoln, Jeffrey Vallance, Jim Shaw, Simon Patterson, Susan Hiller, Emma Kay, Mike Nelson, Patrick Corillon, Panamarenko, Nina Fischer & Maroan El Sani, Olaf Nicolai, Cang Xin, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, Yutaka Sone, Shirley Tse, Do-Ho Suh, Miguel Angel Rios, Aleksandra Mir, Ann Sofi Sidén, Katarzyna Jozefowicz, Salon de Fleurus (kuratiert von Marina Grzinic), Darren Siwes, Suzanne Treister, Jeffrey Vallance, H J Wedge, Vibeke Tandberg, Miwa Yanagi ...