Australian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale
“Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time”
Artist: Fiona Hall
Curator: Linda Michael
Commissioner: Simon Mordant AM
Deputy Commissioner: Charles Green
Venue: Pavilion at Giardini
Fiona Hall, a prolific Sydney-born artist who has received the Queen’s “Order of Australia” medal for her achievements, began her career as a photographer in the 1970s; in the ’90s, she shifted toward a conceptual multimedia practice that addressed issues of ecology and globalization. Hall’s oeuvre is influenced by the tensions between Australia’s European colonial culture and its physical situation among the peoples of Southeast Asia and southern Africa. She is particularly known for her 1989–90 work Paradisus Terrestris, a series of half-opened sardine cans featuring tin sculptures of plant life growing from human genitals.
“Wrong Way Time,” which Hall will present on behalf of Australia at this year’s Venice Biennale, focuses on what she calls the “madness, badness, and sadness” of three major fields: global disputes, finance, and the environment. The show’s title, which Hall concocted in 2013, has become a reference to the regressive strategies of 2014 that resulted in deadly conflicts in Syria and Ukraine, among other places, as well as to the many clocks that appear in the exhibition. The multipart installation will also include currency symbols, camouflaged items, and sardine tins, among other objects. “Collectively, the materials rub shoulders with each other to create a sense of the agendas and the frictions and the troubles of the world,” Hall says.
Hall’s exhibition will inaugurate Australia’s brand-new pavilion, a minimalistic granite building designed by the Melbourne-based architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall. “We designed a white box within a black box, carefully positioned on the site to ensure minimal impact on the existing landscape,” the architects have said. It is the first 21st-century structure to have been built within the biennial’s historic Giardini section.