Our installation for Biennale Architettura 2018, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, invites visitors to look through a series of portals that will transport them from Italy to Australia and back again.
On first sight an impressive concertina structure of timber, overlaid with delicate steelwork, draws visitors in to explore spaces in between mysterious passageways. Five different ‘portals’ invite closer inspection and transport the viewer to ‘somewhere other’. The installation becomes an instrument for seeing, it extends beyond the confines of its place, to connect Venice with Australia.
This vast structure’s sensory nature comes alive in the darkened atmosphere of the Arsenale building. The scent, colour and grain of native Australian spotted gum hardwood evoke the bush, while ambient sounds from mesmerising films combine with landscapes created by the practice’s works. A series of five portals frame views, playing with perspective and reflection to extend the space of the installation, with myriad references that enmesh Venice and Australia. The ‘Venetian portal’ features an embedded chrome cone that tapers outward. Beyond this an enormous mouth-blown Murano glass tube of vivid orange playfully redirects your view. Another portal is inspired by masks; the Venetian mask and legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly’s iron helmet, with its horizontal eye slit, to meld cultural references and create something new. In these ways, the visitor is transported momentarily “upside down at the bottom of the world”, as Australia was described by DH Lawrence, a quote that frames the dialogue within Somewhere Other.
Where is the installation?
'Somewhere Other', is revealed in the Arsenale as part of Freespace, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia. Curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara. the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, runs from 26 May to 25 November.
Who were the contributors?
Natasha Johns-Messenger, Artist, Australia/New York
Coco and Maximilian, Filmmakers, Melbourne, Australia
Leonardo Cimolin, Master glassmaker, Venice
Jacaranda Industries, Joiners, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
Derek John, Steel Fabricator, Melbourne, Australia
How was 'Somewhere Other' a collaborative project?
The contributions of both ‘proposers’ and ‘makers’ of things brings ‘Somewhere Other’ to life. Celebrated artist Natasha Johns-Messenger has proposed mirrors and reflection, which challenge the perceptions of the visitor. Meanwhile ethereal films by Coco and Maximilian add an emotional quality. Somewhere Other has also been choreographed with fabricators to distil its many concerns, through months of dialogue, working and re-working. Steel fabricator Derek John, the joiners of Jacaranda Industries and Venetian master glassblower Leonardo Cimolin, are each instrumental. All of these contributions are inextricable from the whole; each adds to the installation, making it greater than the sum of its parts.
What was the process of making 'Somewhere Other'?
For those making our installation ‘Somewhere Other’, the push and pull of our discussions and their constant guidance has created opportunities to both explore and refine. ‘Somewhere Other’ is a work of architecture in miniature, a compression of construction and detail that requires an intense focus of skill and ingenuity to realise in a short time frame. Furniture makers Jacaranda Industries and specialist steel fabricator Derek John combined together to assemble the object.
As it is an instrument for viewing, our collaborating film makers Coco and Maximilian needed to calibrate and refine the moments where moving images are revealed. The seamless placement of mirrors and the concealment of their presence was developed by the artist, Natasha Johns-Messenger.
Meticulously constructed in a factory, the object was then carefully deconstructed for shipping to Venice. A catalogue of pieces within a single container. Having survived the journey, the pieces have then been reconstructed in the Arsenale by the original team. This process of making in Australia and re-making in Venice, and the generosity and spirit of the team, ties together both places with human endeavour. The last piece, a blown glass viewing chamber formed on the island of Murano by artisan Leonardo Cimolin, has a shorter journey to make. It is held in place, precariously, by steel rods in a way that is an apt illustration of the reliance of each participant upon many others.
Our installation for Biennale Architettura 2018, curated by Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, invites visitors to look through a series of portals that will transport them from Italy to Australia and back again. On first sight an impressive concertina structure of timber, overlaid with delicate steelwork, draws visitors in to explore spaces in between mysterious passageways. Five different ‘portals’ invite closer inspection and transport the viewer to ‘somewhere...
- Year 2018
- Work finished in 2018
- Status Completed works
- Type Exhibitions /Installations