May 2015

Australian Pavilion

Australia - Biennale Arte 2015


“a minefield of madness, badness, and sadness in equal measure”
Wrong Way Time brings together dozens of multi-part works created by artist Fiona Hall, set in dialogue with each other within a multisensory, immersive display. Hall’s subject is the intersecting field of global conflict, world finances, and the environment, which she perceives as “a minefield of madness, badness, and sadness in equal measure”. 

Fiona Halls sustained examination of the intricate interrelationship between nature and culture takes on new urgency as she responds to the realities of climate change, war and increasing inequity. A museum of transformed materials and objects, together with intense and poignant paintings and sculptures, prompt us to consider our impact on the future of nature.

In Wrong Way Time, visitors enter a dark space where illuminated objects emerge from the shadows.

A forest of painted clocks—grandfather, grandmother, mantle, and cuckoo – forms a dark walls of lament.

Charred cabinets are filled with collections of banknotes, newspapers and atlases and other archaeological remnants of contemporary life. The cabinets are filled with cast bronze forms and intricate hammered tin sculptures, sculpted bread and bird’s nests made of shredded banknotes.

The cabinet surrounds a central group of hanging figures with distorted heads knitted from camouflage fabric, a nihilistic hub of hollow death masks. The intermittent sounds of clocks ticking, chiming and cuckooing, along with field recordings of crows, add a resonant layer that contributes to a sense of madness and doom.

Fiona Hall
Fiona Hall AO is one of Australia's leading contemporary artists and came to prominence as a photographer in the 1970s.

During the 1980s Fiona Hall extended her creative practice to embrace a diverse range of art forms including sculpture, installation, garden design, and film. Transforming everyday materials and objects, Fiona Hall creates artworks that often address the relationship between nature and culture.

“The realities of terrorism, war, climate change, environmental pillage, and economic turmoil have become part of our daily consciousness” 
Fiona Hall

Wrong Way Time can be read as a body of work encompassing hundreds of elements, each embedded with layers of meaning that the viewer discovers while navigating through the exhibition.

Hall uses repetition, mimicry, layers of reference, and repurposed materials and objects to create a symbolic landscape that reveals her fascination with natural cycles, and the policies and actions that degrade organic systems or diminish life.

"The body of work I'm presenting is a personal attempt to reconcile a state of gloom and chaos with a curiosity and affection for the place where we all live"
Fiona Hall
"Our contemporary mindset has resulted in widespread paranoia over this perilous state. But it’s a world that’s also resilient and wondrous."
Fiona Hall

The impact of colonization and capitalism on the environment is also explored in Manuhiri (Travellers) (2014), for which Hall collected driftwood, including pine, poplar, manuka, and kanuka, from the Waiapu River on the east coast of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. The Waiapu was once surrounded by heavily forested land before suffering from erosion, chemical runoff, and the accumulation of silt due to development. In a paradoxical and poetic move, the pieces of driftwood selected by Hall evoke the shape of living creatures, appearing as poignant vestiges of the environmental degradation that shaped them.

All the King’s Men
All the King’s Men (2014–15) is a display of hanging, three-dimensional figures whose heads are knitted from uniforms made of camouflage fabric from various countries, designed to mimic nature to benefit the activities of military forces. Ghostly vestigial bodies hang from the disfigured heads, forming a disturbing group that stands in for countless foot-soldiers, casualties of war regardless of nationality.
"While it reflects a pervasive sense of uncertainty about the future, fed by news about war, climate mutations, species extinction and economic inequity, the exhibition itself is life-affirming and transformative.”
 Linda Michael, Curator. 
Fiona Hall, Wrong Way Time installation View
Credits: Story

The Australia Council for the Arts is the Australian Government’s principal arts funding and advisory body. For the past three decades, Australia’s presentations at la Biennale di Venezia have been supported and managed by the Australia Council for the Arts.

Fiona Hall is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney.

Image credits: Christian Corte, Angus Mordant, Clayton Glen, Will Taylor.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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