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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Peter Hennessey - Artist Talk

Video produced by Caddie Brain and Tega Brain from COFA Online

About Peter Hennessey
Born 1968 in Sydney, Australia
Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia

A graduate in architecture, Peter Hennessey worked in interactive design and technical consulting before undertaking his own artistic projects in the 1990s. His bold and intricately constructed large-scale sculptures and multimedia works are imbued with symbolic intensity as well as a sense of familiarity, born from his fascination with scientific phenomena and popularised media-generated events.
Hennessey’s first major show, ‘Repercussions’ (2004), in collaboration with artist Patricia Piccinini, focused on the symbolic power of space travel and demonstrated the sheer scale of his ideas. At the centrepiece was My Voyager, a large-scale probe constructed from plywood, assorted hinges and hardware, and associated panel works, along with a four-wheeled Lunar Module, NASA missile control, drawings and video works used to explore the elemental narrative of space exploration. My Voyager also featured an audio work, Golden Record (Fitzroy Remix) – Hennessey’s own version of the golden record in which he assembled a soundscape of personal messages. To further invoke the original NASA project of 1977, supplementary works My Moonwalk and My Moon Landing incorporated performance work and digital documentation. The intention of these works was not to create exact replicas of real events; Hennessey’s interest lies in abstractions. The materials used are commonplace, and the works are intentionally flawed copies of the originals. ‘Repercussions’ was based on historical events only known through the media; Hennessey’s version of them reversed the trend towards mass digitisation by bringing these projects to life.  
Transfixed by both science and a desire for realism, Hennessey’s innovative approach to sculptural form contains humour and subtle political overtones. He takes media-saturated events and scientific phenomena that have been inscribed in the collective public memory, making them physically accessible – even personalised –made evident through the preface ‘My …’ in the titles of many of his works. In this he transforms digital photographs into real-life models through a technical and painstaking practice, driven by a certain fixation.
Hennessey’s large new sculptural work, My Hubble (the universe turned in on itself) (2010), will debut in the Turbine Halls of Cockatoo Island. This actual-size ‘re-enactment’ of the Hubble Space Telescope – a space-based observatory that has revolutionised astronomy by providing deep and clear views of the universe – aims to give the viewer a unique, physical experience of the object. Its construction – the work is about the size of a tram – is made from plywood and steel and simultaneously enacts the scale and detail of the original object, but also performs a unique telescopic function. My Hubble is pointed inwards and down. Balanced on a huge scaffolding tower, it focuses on a small platform covered with multicoloured plasticine and sand. Visitors are free to play with this, to modify it to create their own universes – or to do it for others – for the people looking through the other end at that moment. My Hubble then ‘beams’ back images of these strange environments to the rear (top) of the object via a series of lenses and mirrors.
My Hubble is an investigation of the way the original structure functions as a form of representation in both science and art. It is a vast, monumental, complex, precarious object, and a reflexive analogue of the effort and function of the original, which is, in itself, a very particular testament to the beauty of distance.

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