In The Finan­cial Times, 24 March 2018: Syd­ney har­bours a trea­sury of art’

Jane Ure-Smith

[Excerpt] The 21st Syd­ney Bien­nale […] brings togeth­er 70 artists from 35 coun­tries in sev­en venues, includ­ing the once-con­tro­ver­sial Syd­ney Opera House, whose open­ing in 1973 coin­cid­ed with that of the first bien­nale. Twen­ty months in the mak­ing, this year’s exhi­bi­tion, enti­tled Super­po­si­tion: Equi­lib­ri­um & Engage­ment, is direct­ed by Mami Katao­ka, chief cura­tor of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum […]

Oth­er sound works are thrilling too, most notably those by Oliv­er Beer, who believes that every archi­tec­tur­al space has its own notes, which can be brought to life by the unam­pli­fied human voice. At the Opera House, small groups can expe­ri­ence his remark­able Com­po­si­tion for Tun­ing an Archi­tec­tur­al Space”, in which four singers, their faces turned to the wall, release the music of an unre­mark­able, con­crete stair­well, and send shud­ders down your spine.

The per­for­mance is com­ple­ment­ed by a film at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGN­SW) in which Beer has per­suad­ed two male and two female pro­fes­sion­al singers to explore the archi­tec­ture” of each other’s faces. Locked mouth-to-mouth in a big onscreen close-up, they sing through each other’s noses. Those view­ers who stum­ble in unawares will puz­zle over what must seem a strange erot­ic encounter.

Beer wove his singers’ ear­li­est musi­cal mem­o­ries into his stair­case suite” and a sim­i­lar notion under­lies Aki­ra Takayama’s Our Songs” project at 4A Cen­tre for Con­tem­po­rary Asian Art. In a vari­ant on kabu­ki the­atre, he invit­ed Syd­ney res­i­dents to per­form a song or poem passed down through their fam­i­ly in the city’s (emp­ty) town hall, while Hikaru Fujii filmed them. In the frag­ment I watched, peo­ple sang in Russ­ian, Mex­i­can, Pol­ish and Span­ish: as Aus­tralia embraces the past of its indige­nous cit­i­zens and feels increas­ing­ly at home as an Asia-Pacif­ic nation, here were some unex­pect­ed exot­ic pedi­grees to add to the social richness.

… The Bien­nale of Syd­ney runs to June 11, biennaleofsydney.art Pic­tured: Oliv­er Beer, Com­po­si­tion for Mouths (Songs My Moth­er Taught Me), 2018 [still].
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