National Gallery of Victoria unveils ‘spectacular’ second Triennial exhibition

The National Gallery of Victoria has unveiled its much-anticipated Triennial exhibition, which features 86 projects from more than 100 artists, designers and collectives from more than 30 countries.

The exhibition includes more than 30 new major commissions, including architectural commissions by Australian and international architects and designers.

BTVV (Switzerland and Finland) were invited to create an installation after their whimsical Swiss national pavilion won the Golden Lion Award at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Like the Swiss pavilion, the Triennial installation plays with scale and perception.

Walls 4 Sale: near new and supersized by BTVV.

Image: Sean Fennessy

“BTVV are an architecture studio that takes issue with architecture,” said Simone LeAmon, curator of contemporary design and architecture at NGV. They are critiquing their own discipline from within.

“For this commission, they came to Melbourne and they witnessed what we’re all witnessing which is the building boom, and they took particular interest in the language of selling off the plan.”

The studio made particular note of the distorted wide angle perspectives in renderings of apartments and the over emphasis on kitchen appliances in real estate.

“They’ve taken what they see as being a very insincere language of visualizing and representing real estate and they have built it,” LeAmon explained. “So you will walk through doors that are oversized, you will encounter appliances which make you feel like Alice in Wonderland. It is quite a surreal experience.”

The studio also plays on the speculative development market with a tongue-in-cheek proposal to construct an apartment tower over the Roy Grounds designed NGV International building.

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma collaborated with Melbourne artist Geoffrey Nees on a timber pavilion made from trees that had died during the Millennium drought at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Botanical Pavilion by Kengo Kuma and Geoffrey Nees.

Image: Tom Ross

“When an arborist deems a tree unsafe sometimes that tree needs to be felled and that timber is very precious,” LeAmon said. Some of the trees pre-date European colonization. “If you walk inside the pavilion, you will encounter timber from all these trees and the smell is quite extraordinary.”

The pavilion is built using a traditional Japanese technique where interlocking pieces are held together only by tension and gravity.

LA-based Australian architect Liam Young created a 15-minute animated film installation that proposes that in the future, the entire world’s population would live together in a single densely packed city.

Planet City by Liam Young.

Image: Tom Ross

“The provocation is we do this to let the rest of planet to return to its former state. This is a speculative design. It suggests we need to think differently about how we live in the future, how we design our cities, how we even live together as human beings,” LeAmon said.

Other new commissions include the transformation of the NGV Gallery Kitchen by English architect Adam Nathaniel Furman and Australian studio Sibling Architecture. The installation draw on influences from the boudoir, the salon and the nightclub to create a space with “flamboyant scenography and décor.” It is intended to be an inclusive space that is “especially welcoming to those who may not feel comfortable or safe in the public realm.”

The mammoth Triennial exhibition is underpinned by four themes: illumination, reflection, conservation, and speculation. The artworks – some of which have been several years in the making and others created in the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns – explore some of the most pressing issues of today, including isolation, conservation and climate change.

Other artworks in the exhibition includes the world’s first quantum artwork – a 100 square metre screen depicting a speculative work by Turkish artist Refik Anadol, made using artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

The exhibition is open from 19 December 2020 until 18 April 2021 and entry is free.

“There couldn’t be a better way to welcome Victorians back to the NGV – the people’s gallery – than with the spectacular second NGV Triennial,” said Victorian premier Daniel Andrews.

In unveiling the exhibition, Andrews also announced a $20 million donation from the Ian Potter Foundation towards the development of the proposed NGV Contemporary.

Source: Architecture - architectureau

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