17th Biennale of Sydney
  • Daniel Crooks, Static No.12 (seek stillness in movement), 2009–10 Detail of HD video (RED transferred to Blu-ray), dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Copyright © Daniel Crooks 2009
  • Kutlug Ataman, Mesopotamian Dramaturgies / Journey to the Moon, 2009 (detail), still photography, 31 x 41 cm. Courtesy of Francesca Minini, Milan and the artist
  • Lara Baladi, Perfumes & Bazaar, The Garden of Allah, 2006 (detail), digital collage, 560 x 248 cm, technical production and printing, Factum Arte, Madrid. Courtesy the artist. Copyright Lara Baladi
  • Kataryzana Kozyra, Summertale, 2008 (detail), DVD production still, 20 mins, prod. Zacheta National Gallery of Art Copyright artist, courtesy ZAK I BRANICKA Gallery. Photograph: M. Olivia Soto
  • Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Manet’s Dejeuner sur I’herbe 1862 1863 and the Thai villagers group II, 2008-09 (detail), from ‘The Two Planets Series’, photograph and video, 110 x 100 cm; 16 mins. Courtesy the artist and 100 Tonson Gallery, Bangkok
  • Cai Guo-Qiang, Inopportune: Stage One, 2004 (detail), nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes, dimensions variable. Collection of Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Robert M. Arnold, in honour of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2006, installation view at MASS MoCA, North Adams, 2004. Courtesy Cai Studio. Photograph: Hiro Ihara
  • Kent Monkman, The Death of Adonis, 2009 (detail), acrylic on canvas, 182.9 x 304.8 cm. Courtesy the artist and TrépanierBaer Gallery, Calgary
  • Christopher Pease, Law of Reflection, 2008–09 (detail), oil on canvas, 123 x 214 cm. Private collection. Courtesy the artist and Goddard de Fiddes, Contemporary Art, Perth. Photograph: Tony Nathan
  • AES+F, The Feast of Trimalchio, 2009 (detail of video still), nine-channel video installation, 19 mins. Courtesy the artists; Triumph Gallery, Moscow; and Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow
  • Tsang Kin-Wah, The First Seal – It Would Be Better If You Have Never Been Born…, 2009, digital video projection and sound installation, 6:41 mins, 513 x 513 cm. Courtesy the artist
  • Wang Qingsong, Competition, 2004 (detail), c-print, 170 x 300 cm. Courtesy the artist
  • Mark Wallinger, Hymn, 1997 (detail of video still), video, sound, 4:52 mins, edition of 10 and 1 artist proof. Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London

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Mikala Dwyer - Artist Talk

Video produced by Caddie Brain and Tega Brain from COFA Online

About Mikala Dwyer
Born 1959 in Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney

Mikala Dwyer is a Sydney-based artist, and lecturer in painting at the Sydney College of the Arts. Dwyer is known for her playful, imaginative style and fantastic installations that explore different notions of time, space and reality, borrowing ideas from science, architecture and clairvoyance.

Dwyer’s abstract installations resemble make-shift architecture fabricated out of plastic, Styrofoam, fabric, modelling clay and domestic materials such as television sets, nail polish and vacuum cleaners. Avoiding the use of figurative forms because of their restrictive nature, Dwyer seeks to dissolve distinctions of appearance in her work to allow for wider interpretations of time and space. In Woops (1994), an experimental work combining domestic materials shrouded in nylon stockings taking on alien forms with monochrome wall paintings painted with nail polish, the artist aimed to disorientate the viewer and induce ‘a bit of an identity crisis’. Her affinity with plastic is evident in sculpture works such as Empty Structure (2003) and Swamp Sculpture (2006) – a floating work that sits upon a mossy pond in Omi Sculpture Park, Upstate New York; a seemingly incongruous addition to the natural environment, yet harmonious for its beauty, stature and freedom of movement. Dwyer references the ancient wonder of the hanging gardens of Babylon in a series of ‘Hanging Garden’ works. Smoking, Drinking Sculptures (2006) and Hanging Smoking Garden (2007) demonstrate another fusion of the natural – plants in soil – with the unnatural – plastic, ashtrays or bottles of vodka. Each object is suspended in isolation, contained in its own ‘transparent microsphere’ of plastic casing. The plants are vulnerable, in need of care, while dirty ashtrays and vodka bottles imply a general disregard, human recklessness, operating in parallel with nature.  

The Additions and the Subtractions (2007) is a collection of mixed media works that owe their form to a circle. Inward-facing sculptures resembling animals, cartoon figures, alien creatures or tribal masks stand at various heights, primitive in nature and composition. The title of this work suggests simplicity and ease of transformation, as the artist’s intervention of removing or adding individual objects will change the composition entirely. Dwyer has produced various incarnations of Additions and Subtractions, some made interactive with the provision of stools for audience members to sit on and join the circle. She has also often experimented with combining various past works into new assemblages, bound with their own ‘idiosyncratic logic’, reflecting her ongoing investigation into the ‘core structures’ of human imagination.  

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