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Govett-Brewster announces new world art biennale

Govett-Brewster announces new world art biennale

The possibility of holding an international art show in the tropical setting of Fiji is the subject of a major installation by Mladen Bizumic, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s 2003 national artist in residence, showing at the Gallery from 6 December.

Fiji Biennale Pavilions is a proposal by the Auckland-based artist for a biennale, or international art exhibition, to be located in the tropical paradise of Fiji and a celebration of famous world fair and biennale architecture from the past.

“Fiji Biennale Pavilions is a project that continues an investigation of the relationship between art, architecture and design, a theme that has run through the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s programme, most recently in the touring show Come in: interior design as a contemporary art medium in Germany, “ said Gallery Director Greg Burke.

Bizumic’s installation, a new project exhibited exclusively at the Gallery as a result of the residency programme, is made up of nine 1:150 scale Perspex models of notable pavilion architecture, for example Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret’s L’Esprit Nouveau 1925 and Oscar Neimeyer’s, Brazilian Pavilion 1939, against a backdrop of a large scale map depicting the Fijian archipelago. These models of pavilions, now demolished, are potential sites to display the works should this utopian project be realised. Each model is accompanied by 13 written submissions by artists who hypothetically want to house their installations within the exhibition.

“Mladen Bizumic has invited proposals from artists following the fashion of proposals submitted to national governing bodies who administer national pavilions at the Venice Biennale. Invited submissions from artists who have recently exhibited at the Gallery include Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX, the Gallery’s 2003 international artist in residence Sam Durant, multi-media Australian artist Kathy Temin and Come-in artists Claus Föttinger and Björn Dahlem,” said Mr Burke.

Fiji Biennale Pavilions continues Bizumic’s focus on international cultural politics in relation to art history and 20th century architecture. In 2002, the artist presented the Tauranga Guggenheim project at Artspace, Auckland and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. The project commented on the nature of art museums in general and the specific relationship of major world art museums to a New Zealand context, in this case Tauranga.

“The theme of this juxtaposition and migration to other locations continues through Mladen’s work. In Night shift 2003, Mladen relocates Little Barrier Island from the Hauraki Gulf to the coast off Venice, the topography of the island rendered in computer-aided design, plan-drawings and a video animation. Fiji Biennale Pavilions extends the artist’s consideration of location – contrasting Fiji’s tourism utopia with the symbols of the highest aspirations of culture in art and architecture, since the staging of the first biennale in Venice in the late 19th Century,” said Mr Burke.

Fiji Biennale Pavilions runs alongside Bloom: mutation, toxicity and the sublime, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery’s major summer exhibition. The show features works by artists Patricia Piccinini, Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba, and Motohiko Odani included in the current Venice Biennale.

To acknowledge this biennale connection Mladen Bizumic will join the General Manager of the Biennale of Sydney Paula Latos-Valier, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director and other panelists for the Gallery’s summer forum, Biennale Debate, on Sunday 14 December at 12.00pm.

The forum will discuss aspects of the proliferation and diverse locations of international biennales. Moderator Greg Burke will introduce the forum and discuss the curating of international thematic exhibitions in New Zealand; special guest Paula Latos-Valier will speak about the Biennale of Sydney and its impact on Australian art since its inception in 1973; and Mladen Bizumic will provide insight into his project and the relevance of Biennales to the South Pacific and New Zealand.

The panel will discuss whether New Zealand should participate in these international events and whether or not biennales actually benefit artists or advance curatorial, national, and market agendas.

A 24-page full colour catalogue will accompany the exhibition to document the project. Containing an artist’s biography and essay by curator Simon Rees, the catalogue will play an important role in expanding awareness of the exhibition and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery artist in residence programme. The programme, supported by the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki, brings one artist from the Pacific Rim and one from New Zealand to New Plymouth each year with an emphasis on the development of a new project to be exhibited at the Gallery.

Fiji Biennale Pavilions 6 December 2003 – 29 February 2004

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