The best public art in Sydney
Public art – in any city – is a notoriously fraught business. No matter how hard you try to make everyone happy, every work will have its detractors. Some more than others, of course. Notable spats in Sydney’s public art history include the time residents threatened to dismantle Ken Unsworth’s ‘poo on sticks’ sculpture in Darlinghurst (it still stands); the time NSW Parliamentarian Helen Sham-Ho said Lin Li’s ‘Golden Water Mouth’ sculpture in Chinatown “looks like a penis”; and the time Oz editor Richard Neville ran a cover photo of himself and two others peeing into Tom Bass’s P&O Wall Fountain. That said, who could possibly argue for a city without public art? It’s (mostly) good for the eyes, good for the soul, and improves even the most uninviting locations. It’s also good for business, which has been part of the drive in Sydney over the last decade to revitalise laneways and commercial precincts with commissions from contemporary artists, architects and designers. In 2007, the City of Sydney appointed their first Public Art Advisory Panel – a mix of artists, curators and architects that currently includes Carriageworks director Lisa Havilah and installation artist Janet Laurence. Now you know who to thank/complain to. Since it’s Art Month in Sydney, we thought we’d share some of our favourite public art works in Sydney.
Your guide to contemporary, fine and Indigenous art in Sydney
The best places to see art in Sydney
Sydney is busting at the seams with great art – from major institutions like the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, to incredible privately-owned but publically accessible (and free!) galleries like White Rabbit and Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, and right down to a thriving scene of independent and artist-run initiatives. Below are some of our favourites.
Upcoming events and exhibitions
The Museum of Contemporary Art's monthly party series is curated by a different artist or collective each edition, and features art, performance and design – with killer views, party tunes and hands-on activities with artists. Since Artbar kicked off in May 2012, we’ve seen the MCA's galleries graced with nude performance art, endurance table tennis, house party-style karaoke, vomit montages, huge inflatables and a live goat. Ah, artists. Never change. The parties tend to sell out in advance, so consider pre-purchasing those tickets. Click through the Dates & Times tab for the line-up for each edition of Artbar.
The National Art School are staying up late with a series of free after hours events that bring together art, a pop up Cake Wines bar and tunes in the atmospheric surrounds of the old Darlinghurst gaol. The next NAS Nights event is April 6, in conjunction with the Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize exhibition at NAS Gallery. Click the Dates & Times tab to see what's on the menu. Like a night pARTy? Here's our hit list of places to get your fix of art after dark in Sydney.
Pipilotti Rist's four-wall video aquarium 'Mercy Garden Retour Skin' at the MCA was one of our favourite works in the 2014 Biennale of Sydney. The artist will be back in the building come October 2017, for a major survey of her work spanning from the late 1980s to now, curated by the MCA's Natasha Bullock. Among the works show, we're hoping that her 1997 work 'Ever Is Over All' – reportedly an inspiration for Beyoncé's 'Hold Up' clip from Lemonade – makes an appearance. This exhibition is part of the Sydney International Art Series, which within the last two years has brought Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry to the MCA, and the forthcoming Tatsuo Miyajima exhibition. See who's at the AGNSW in summer 2017.
News and interviews
Five reasons you should head to Hobart's Dark Mofo festival this winter
Now in its fifth year, Tasmania’s Dark Mofo festival has a reputation for programming the dark, demented and esoteric with huge success. The secret seems be partly the niche-ness itself, and partly the fact that they make sure there’s enough free and accessible art and performance to create a genuine sense of festivity across the whole city for two weeks in June. There’s a Nude Solstice Swim, light and sound installations that take place across the harbour and foreshore (this year’s sonic intervention is Siren Song by Melbourne sound engineer Byron J Scullin and the Supple Fox collective), a public art park (Dark Park), and an outdoor market (Winter Feast) that serves up street food with a local focus, alongside performance and music – and lots of outdoor fire. Dark Mofo Nude Solstice Swim 2016 Photograph: Rosie Hastie If you haven’t experienced the dark arts yet, here are 5 reasons to go this year in particular. CONTENT WARNING: the image for #5 may be distressing to herbivores and people who feel queasy about blood. 1. Mogwai The Scottish post-rockers are headlining the music offering – so even if you’re not a metal/noise/drone fan (and if you are, boy are you covered by this festival) you can get into an appropriately ritualistic mindset via one of their wall-of-sound sets. 2. A 200km theremin pilgrimage. Billed as a “200km theremin pilgrimage from church to church”, Crossing is a progressive performance that will take viewers from Launceston’s Pil
Ai Weiwei is presenting a major new artwork in Sydney
The Biennale of Sydney has revealed the first 21 artists taking part in the 21st edition of the city-wide festival (taking place in 2018) – and the biggest news is that Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will be presenting a new work commissioned by the Biennale. It's not entirely unexpected (in fact we predicted it) given that artistic director Mami Kataoka curated the major survey Ai Weiwei: According to What? for Mori Art Museum in 2009, which subsequently toured North America. This will be the second Biennale of Sydney for Weiwei, who presented the work 'World Map' in 2006. The artist was most recently in Australia for the opening of the National Gallery of Victoria's major exhibition Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei. The 21st Biennale of Sydney's line-up, which is expected to swell to around 70 artists, will also feature major international names Laurent Grasso, Haegue Yang and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, and Australian artists Brook Andrew, George Tjungurrayi, Yasmin Smith and Koji Ryui. (Scroll down for the full list of artists). L-R: Brook Andrew, Yasmin Smith, Hoy Cheong Wong, Koji Ryui, Mami Kataoka, NS Harsha and Rika Noguchi Photograph: Anna Kucera The 2018 Biennale of Sydney will not focus on a single topic or theme, but take a more responsive approach to what artists are interested in, and (in Kataoka's words) "suggest multi-layered perspectives of the world and its histories simultaneously." The 21 currently confirmed artists for the Biennale of Sydney are: Eija-Liisa
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