PICK OF THE WEEK:: From Issue 89: Review of the 19th Biennale of Sydney

Jul 28, 2014 1:23AM

Desire can be an impish, whimsical affair. The 19th Biennale of Sydney, curated by Juliana Engberg, artistic director of Melbourne’s Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, was themed “You Imagine What You Desire,” and that desire was expressed in the form of the curious, the fantastical and the indulgent. Like Charles Ryder’s “low door in the wall” in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945), the Biennale was the experiential equivalent of an “enclosed and enchanted garden”—occluded by urban venues and industrial settings.

This seemed to be the case for the most arresting works in the Biennale. There was Christine Streuli’s gradually_real (2014), for which she created a replica room within the structure it was modeled after. On cardboard walls set several feet away from their original counterparts, the details of the latter were carefully duplicated: doors, windows, exit signs and weathered bricks. Viewers were encouraged to traverse the narrow passage between the quirky installation and the room it inhabited—the slender margin between authenticity and artifice.