Ed Pien with Tanya Tagaq2012

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

Source (2012), was presented in the Industrial Precinct (138) on Cockatoo Island, for the 18th Biennale of Sydney.

Ed Pien researches the convergence of history, beliefs and mythology from diverse cultures in an attempt to make more engaging and critical art. Using drawing, paper-cuts, installation, sound and video work, he explores curiosity, wonder and enchantment while celebrating diverse ways of being in the world. Participants enter his work to engage and explore its labyrinthine interior. The use of installation allows him to combine powerful elements of drawing, video and sound to achieve seductive and evocative environments. As with all his work and concerns, they continually build from his previous art, from solid conceptual bases accumulated through comprehensive research.

Artist Statement
Source (2012) is a site-specific installation for Cockatoo Island and explores the symbolic, mythological and political ramifications of water. To conceptually develop Source, I researched mythologies and folklore pertaining to water recounted by elders from various cultures. From these narratives, a hybridised story was created, focussing on the commonalities and differences between peoples and cultures. The political ramifications of water also inform the work, in particular, the lack of accessible clean water experienced by many First Nations’ communities. Part of the challenge lies in reference to the book ‘Denying the Source: The Crisis of First Nations Water Rights’ by Merrell-Ann S. Phare, with its poetic and emotive potency. My installation alludes to water in its various states and is at once playful and engaging. The physical aspect of Source is a labyrinth of interconnected chambers with walls made of translucent paper. Within this immersive environment, a unique play of material, colours, spaces, shadows and illusions is offered. The sound element, integral to Source, features throat singing by Nunavut-born musician Tanya Tagaq. Her haunting and expressive voice will further activate the entire work – spatially, conceptually and emotionally.


  • Title: Source
  • Creator: Ed Pien with Tanya Tagaq
  • Creator Lifespan: 1958
  • Creator Nationality: Taiwanese, Canadian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Taipei
  • Date: 2012
  • Location Created: Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: The artist wishes to thank the following people for their assistance with this project: Johannes Zits and Nicole Vogelzang, Jenny Pham, Polina Teif, Tong Shen, Corrie Jackson and Heidrun Gabel-Koepff. Courtesy the artist. This project was made possible with assistance from the Canadian Friends of the 18th Biennale of Sydney. Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney has supported this project through its Artist-in-Residence program
  • Type: Work on Paper, Installation, Projection/Installation
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: paper, Mylar, rope, sound and video
  • Edition: 2012: 18th Biennale of Sydney: all our relations

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