Visitors searching for Ryan Kennedy’s Biennale of Australian Art installation in the George Farmer Building will find themselves going to a dark place.
The space he is working in is a large-scale, dark, sub-basement of the historic site and, when Mr Kennedy visited it more than a year ago he felt right at home.
“It’s really dark and dismal and when I walked in I felt it was a very much depraved almost hopeless space and I felt that immediacy of hope,” the Ballarat artist said.
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“But I really struggle with hope because it can cause a lot of inactivity and people maybe focus on the future rather than looking at the current situation.
“This work is an inquiry in to hope and foresight.”
His work Sapiens (Basis and Inquiry) is a culmination of performance, installation and sculpture that may grow and evolve over the six-week BOAA festival.
Visitors will enter the installation through a passageway containing audio which will prepare them for the work before they enter a space containing a number of baths filled with liquid.
Then there are prints inspired by the human body, sounds and video footage of the opening night performance that will appear like an apparition in space.
There’s also two walls built of 1200 hardback books painted white and plastered like brick.
“It’s a very immersive work, textural and sensual and very keen on the senses.”BOAA artist Ryan Kennedy
“You get a definite sense that actions have occurred within the space to have altered it, and a sense that something ritualistic has happened,” he said.
It will take Mr Kennedy four weeks working full-time to ready Sapiens for BOAA’s opening on September 21.
His opening performance on September 22 is sold out, with only 70 people able to fit in the space, however CCTV cameras will offer a live public projection of the performance on to a screen at St Andrews Church.
That footage will then be inserted in to the space for the remaining six weeks and it will be open to the public the following day.
Mr Kennedy is one of 25 of the biggest names in the biennale, including veteran performance artist Stelarc, West Australian brothers Perth brothers Abdul-Rahman Abdullah and Abdul Abdullah and inter-disciplinary artist Charlotte Hayward, who will exhibit at the George Farmer Building during BOAA.
The George Farmer Building, on the corner of Eureka and Joseph Streets, is a former bacon curing factory built in the late 1800s that has been sitting abandoned for more than 50 years but has been transformed in to a purpose-built art space for BOAA.
BOAA runs from September 21 to November 6.
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