21st Biennale of Sydney: Superposition. Equilibium & Engagement

Cockatoo Island as a creative venue

Cockatoo Island is on the  UNSECO World-Heritage list.  It is one of the best surviving examples of convict transportation and colonial expansion through convict labour.   Its buildings, cranes, and other industrial structures have an eeiry and industrial presence.  As a creative venue, it has much to offer site-specific installations. There exists a darkness about the place that comes with its history of confinement and hard labour.  It lends itself to works portraying the darker side of humanity.

Law of the Journey, 2017, reinforced PVC with aluminium joinery, ex 60 x 6m. Ai Weiwei


“With the exception of Indigenous peoples, we are a nation of boat people whose forbears made the journey from elsewhere to our shores.  How we assist succeeding generations in adjusting to their new country is one of the measures of Australia’s maturity and well-being as a nation.” Arnold Zable, Forum on Refugee youth: A challenge for us all, 2012

Sure you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special attention to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstances, are brought into closer connection with you.” St Augustine of Hippo

The powerful presence of Ai Weiweis large scale installation with surrounding quotes had a strong and clear message.  The scale of it highlights the scale of the problem.  The surrounding quotes remind me that actions speak louder than words.

Yukinori Yanagi, Landscape with an Eye, 2018, video projection on acrylic dome.   

Image result for nicholas mangan cockatoo island 

 Yukinori Yanagi, Absolute Dud (2016). Iron. 75 (d) x 312 cm (l).

The all-seeing eye reflects an unfolding scene of devastation.  The idea of surveillance springs to mind.  No action goes unnoticed by someone somewhere…  These works reinforce the harsh reality of our world’s past and present.   A grim reminder and a reality check for how fortunate some of our lives are.

Let there be light

Despite some of the darker works, there was a sense of people coming together in Suzanne Lacy’s installation on Cockatoo Island.  It featured a singing project by a community in Lancashire that has been deserted by the textile industry.  The overlaying of voices singing out in unity drew me into the space and provided a Feeling of life and hope.

Inspiring Structures and machinery:

Oh industry, whatever will become of me…



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