Outside the art scene, it may not be understood that, for the selected Australian artist, the Venice Biennale is an opportunity of Olympian stature.
Fiona Hall’s selection last year was uncontroversial given her significant accomplishments, and it is fitting she was given the opportunity to launch the new purpose-built Australian Pavilion. This year, her Venice installation, Wrong Way Time, is reinstalled at the National Gallery of Australia.
This wunderkammer-like collection of objects, materials and images directs attention to the current environmental, social and political state of the globe.
“The enduring legacy is that Hall looked quite distinctive – not following fashionable trends but rather revealing an artist who is absolutely true to herself – a great ‘maker’ of art works with the ability to convey profound messages,” says NGA senior curator Deborah Hart, who saw Wrong Way Time in Venice.
“She doesn’t tell people what to think but she opens up profound areas of experience for us to contemplate, question and take on board. Her work is provocative but also at times playful and witty, and always engaging.”
”In its major temporary exhibition space the NGA has “exactly mirrored the space of the Australian Pavilion in Venice”, according to Hart. Other works by Hall from the NGA collection, including her Paradise and The Divine Comedy series and her cutout Morality dolls: the seven deadly sins, 1984, will extend the exhibition into other galleries.
“The world is such an amazing place,” Hall says, “yet sadly we are living in troubled times and that sense is reflected in a lot of the works”. Her artistic intensity expresses concern about changes to the earth’s environment, yet in her artwork her concerns become life-affirming and vital.
Wrong Way Time Fiona Hall National Gallery of Australia 22 April – 10 July