Hey Guys – so the Sydney Biennale is in full effect – and although I’ve been to a few galleries in Chippendale, I haven’t really partaken in any of the festivities. I should note here that the biennale has been under heavy protest and scrutiny for its ties to Transfield Holdings (linked to controversial offshore detention centers) (see more on that, and the chairman of the biennale’s resignation over the issues here). Despite this, my love of art in general, and Cockatoo Island in particular (you may remember it from my post on the Underbelly Art Festival last year), drove me to partake in some biennale related festivities. In particular, the Biennale Bootcamp.
That’s right, a bootcamp for the biennale – a lovely (if odd) mixture of fitness and art appreciation. Basically, you go to Cockatoo Island, where a personal trainer and a docent lead you through the artworks, explaining them and guiding you through various exercises. The pictures above, sadly, are from their facebook page, not the day Grant and I went. The day Grant and I went it was raining pretty hard, plus we were running up and down hills and doing all manner of burpees and squats and such – so photo ops were far and few between. It was incredibly weird, but incredibly fun – I must say, however, that the once-a-museum-guard/docent-always-a-museum-guard/docent in me was pretty aghast at the prospect of doing step-aerobics ON a work of art (yep, I did jump-squats off and on a work of art, guys) but I sucked it up and did it. Some of the works (like the Foucauldian village above) had little to do with exercise, but some had everything to do with it- (the bootcamp itself was a work proposed by an artist for the Biennale). For example, there was an entire room of gym equipment gone nuts (think if Willy Wonka had a fitness franchise instead of a candy factory) – when the exercising was over, Grant and I went back to take some photos of it:
This one had a squeaky toy in the middle, so every time you brought your arms together it made noise.
Don’t mind Grant, just strength training through some trees……
This set-up was the most fun, the swing-seats were controlled by a weight machine, so you could push everyone:
More forest-like weight training……
And if you prefer it to be even more decorative….
And then there was the elliptical machine that controlled a skeleton puppet:
So yeah, a pretty great experience, I’d say – and my arms were actually sore the next day, so a decent workout on top of it. We even had our cool-down by a waterfall:
My favorite piece at Cockatoo (it wasn’t part of the bootcamp, we saw it afterwards) was a video work titled “Interrogation” by Ignas Krunglevicius. Krunglevicius originally trained as a composer, and it really showed – the work was very sound-intensive (in the best Gaspar Noe do-your-head-in sort of way) and very simply, but cleverly presented the transcript of an interrogation of a wife and mother accused of murdering her husband.
Here is some video:
a few more cockatoo photos:
Then we made a quick pop-in to MCA where we saw a Pipilotti Rist video:
and Nick Cave:
And while I never want to speak poorly of art in general, we sadly left the day on a low note – I won’t name names, but there was a video work at MCA that made both Grant and I kind of just want to get out of the museum as fast as possible and go home. All I will say is, beware wall text that doesn’t give you a run time, and a particular video piece that rhymes with “men view wall pin-few a prance”