Phil Collins (UK), Cao Fei (People's Republic of China), Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano (Australia), TV Moore (Australia), Lisa Reihana (New Zealand), Mari Velonaki (Australia)
This exhibition includes video, interactive robotics and digital photography.
The artists in this exhibition consider what it means to transform the self into another persona – as a doppelgänger, a karaoke performer, an avatar, a robot, or as a fantasy alter-ego. To fantasize about another life is part of human nature. At one time or another, we have all yearned to be someone other than ourselves.
We are living in a digital era, and, as such, we have opportunities to not only imagine but also realise what it means to be someone other than ourselves. The artists in this exhibition consider the following questions: How can we be both the self, and an other at the same time; both a self, and an out-of-body split self? What is lost and what is gained in such double visions? What is imagined and what is realised?
This reinterpretation of the self has political and cultural consequences. On the one hand, it is a way of accessing our alter-egos. At another level, it also strikes at the meanings of what it is to be different. We cannot really understand the ‘other’ until we acknowledge that we are all comprised of many selves. As such, this exhibition reaches beyond the identity politics that was the focus of many exhibitions and critiques in the 1990s. It suggests that identity can shift.
The 2009 Anne Landa Award takes a different format to the two previous awards. This year Victoria Lynn is the guest curator.
Background to the Anne Landa Award
The Anne Landa Award was the first biennial exhibition in Australia for moving image and new media work with an acquisitive award of $25,000. The award was established in honour of Anne Landa, a Trustee of the Art Gallery of NSW who died in 2002. The first two exhibitions were selected by a panel comprising an Art Gallery of NSW’s curator (who compiled the initial short-list of Australian artists), independent curator and the director of the Art Gallery of NSW. In both instances the exhibition was entitled Anne Landa Award for video and new media arts.
The third exhibition, scheduled for May 2009, adopts a different format. An independent curator has been chosen to curate an exhibition with a unique title and theme (Anne Landa Award will be the sub-title) and will include both Australian and international artists. The acquisitive part of the award will apply to Australian resident artists only.
The independent guest curator for 2009 will be Victoria Lynn. Victoria is an independent curator and writer based in Melbourne. She has recently been appointed the Visual Art Curator for the 2010 Adelaide Festival.
Phil Collins (born 1970 Runcorn, UK. Lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland)
Shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2006, UK artist Phil Collins has exhibited his videos and photographs world-wide. His trilogy project the world won’t listen (el mundo no escuchará, Bogotá, 2004; dünya dinlemiyor, Istanbul, 2005; dunia tak akan mendengar, Jakarta and Bandung, 2007) is based on an album of the same name by the UK band The Smiths. Collins worked with local musicians in Bogotá to produce a fully functioning karaoke machine. The artist then spent extensive periods of time in each place, inviting fans to be filmed performing karaoke to the band’s music. This exhibition includes the final chapter in the trilogy, filmed in Indonesia in 2007. The performers are depicted against backgrounds of the Grand Canyon, the Arizona desert and European mountain peaks. The singers perform out of tune, in tentative ways, with a shyness mixed with a spirit of pathos and commitment to their alter-egos.
Cao Fei (born 1978, Guangzhou, China; lives and works in Beijing, China)
Internationally acclaimed artist, Cao Fei, has had numerous solo exhibitions in China, UK, USA and Hong Kong. As a commission of the Siemens Arts Program What are they doing here? in 2005, Cao Fei chose to intervene directly in Siemens’ OSRAM lighting factory in Foshan, Guangdong province. She encouraged the factory workers to express their dreams, fantasies, and desires in the form of dance, song and performance. Her video Whose Utopia, 2006 shows a ballet dancer, a man performing a traditional Chinese dance, an electric guitarist and a winged angel, against the quite spectacular proportions of the OSRAM factory. Also, Cao Fei has created an avatar, China Tracy, in the online virtual world, Second Life together with the creation of RMB City, a virtual art community, which has been featured at the Istanbul Biennial and the Serpentine Gallery. www.youtube.com/user/ChinaTracy
Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano (born 1972, Brisbane, live and work in Melbourne)
Emerging artists Gabriella and Silvana Mangano have shown their work in several group exhibitions in Australia. Their videos are based on a long held interest in the art of drawing. Rather than creating actual drawings on paper, they use hand gestures to create drawings in space. Their video Absence of evidence, 2008 shows two figures, divided by a wall. They are identical. This is the double take of the video, and one that Gabriella and Silvana clearly enjoy playing. Gradually, an ungainly stream of white paper is transferred from one figure to the other. Like an umbilical cord, this gesture forms a connection between these twin sisters that is very real, but also intuited, as they are blind to each other’s movements.
TV Moore (born 1974 Australia, lives and works in Sydney and L.A.)
TV Moore has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions in San Francisco, Berlin, The Netherlands and Sydney. He has created a new work for this exhibition which, he has indicated, considers altered states such as: being under hypnosis, group therapy, brainwashing, LSD experiences, trance and sleepwalking. The work consists of several video screens, sculptural and sound components and has been designed especially for the gallery space. Moore’s art often deals with characters that exist at the edges of society’s norms.
Lisa Reihana (born New Zealand 1964, lives and works in Auckland)
Since 2006, Mâori artist Lisa Reihana has had major solo exhibitions in New Zealand and Italy and been included in numerous international group exhibitions. Digital marae (2001; 2008) is the collective title of Lisa Reihana’s recent body of work. The marae is an ancestral home for Mâori people, a meeting space and a site for exchange. Her life-size digital prints depict friends and family dressed as male deities (atua) that appear in Mâori creation stories. This Digital marae is a double of the original meeting house, but it is also a transformation. Reihana uses modern and contemporary idioms in the works: the surfboard under the feet of Maui, the stream of city lights in the background of Urban warrior, the astronomical imagery in Ranginui and the 19th-century suit in the cross-gendered Dandy.
Mari Velonaki (born 1968, Greece lives and works in Sydney)
Mari Velonaki, has worked in media art since 1995 and her works have been exhibited in Australia and internationally. Velonaki creates interactive installations which incorporate movement, speech, touch, breath, light, text and robotics. Circle D: Fragile Balances 2008 consists of two small, luminous cubes, each with four crystal screens on which messages emerge. These messages appear to be continuously written by an absent hand, as they scroll around the four sides of each cube. Comprising fragments of personal letters donated by peers and friends, along with verse by Anna Akhmatova, the text is effectively a sequence of loving notations between two virtual characters invented by the artist: Fish and Bird. Each cube is in communication with the other through Bluetooth wireless links. Velonaki has also made a new work for the exhibition, Circle E: Fragile Balances, in a similar vein. Here the audience is invited to write, by hand, intimate notes and send them through a slot of a revolving brass machine. These messages will be scanned by the artist and used in a later manifestation of Fish and Bird’s relationship.