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A site-specific artwork by Auckland-based artist Peter Robinson has been picked as one of the highlights of the 18th Biennale of Sydney.
Gravitas Lite, a massive sprawling installation rendered in polystyrene questions modern consumer culture. Playing with notions of minimalism and scale, Robinson’s gigantic work also toys with the viewer’s sense of perception.
Following on from his exhibition Snow Ball Blind Time at the Govett-Brewster Gallery, the work continues to explore the artistic possibilities of polystyrene and it’s inherent contradiction as a pristine, yet toxic industrial material. Time Out Sydney has picked it has one of the Biennale highlights – ‘of art to dazzle, daze and delight’.
The Sydney Biennale is Australia's largest contemporary visual arts event. Started in 1973, its mandate is to challenge traditional thinking and encourage innovative creative expression. This year’s theme All Our Relations explores the collaboration and interaction between artists, art forms and audiences.
Robinson’s installation is situated in Building 139 on Cockatoo Island, a former penal colony and a World-Heritage-listed site in the middle of Sydney Harbour. This venue’s focus is on relation – with a focus on ephemeral and participatory projects.
Housed in a former industrial zone, the work fills an area 30 metres square and is awash with cascading intertwined chains with links ranging in height from 3 metres tall down to just 30 millimetres in size. Despite the gigantic scale of the work, it is light and dazzlingly white, in striking contrast to its architectural surroundings.
In line with the theme All Our Relations, Robinson’s installation took six weeks to assemble and required a team of people to construct, emphasizing the idea of community. This included students from Elam School of Fine Arts at The University of Auckland who assisted with the project.
“My use of polystyrene over the last few years has been a somewhat self-parodying, self-defeating enterprise as it is a material that, while carrying associations of environmental degradation, seems truly invented for fabricating corruptible artifices, brittle fantasies, luminous delusions. Its industrial neutrality is fraught with a sense of massive inauthenticity that touches on the triviality of the instantly disposable and the sheer absurdity of our contaminated idealisms” says Robinson.
Also showing at this year’s Biennale are Elam School of Fine Arts graduates Tiffany Singh and Sriwhana Spong. The Sydney Biennale opened on 27 June and runs until the 16 September.
Peter Robinson is an Associate Professor at Elam School of Fine Arts at The University of Auckland. In 2008 he was the winner of the Walters Prize and has previously exhibited at both the 1998 Sydney Biennale and the 2001 Venice Biennale