The Beauty of Distance, at Cockatoo Island

by Michelle

Kasbah by Kader Attia

Kader Attia’s Kasbah is an assemblage of shanty town roofs installed at different angles to make a patchwork of scraps, tyres, aerials and corrugated iron. Attia has lived in a North African immigrant community, and he spent three years in the Congo. Depicting the living conditions of the economically and politically marginalised, the work is part of the 17th Biennale at Cockatoo Island. Visitors are invited to walk over the variegated surface, an experience which provokes a reconsideration of power structures and globalisation. It was one of my favourite exhibits yesterday when David and I took the watercat out to middle harbour. ( What a great idea of his to drag me away from my desk :)

It’s pleasant to explore the ruins of the convict prison and the shipbuilding dockyards; also a great way to experience art, with so much open air and space around you. Violence, cruelty, environmental manipulation, the oppression of political and social structures are some of the recurring themes of this inspirational and challenging international contemporary art event, titled The Beauty Of Distance: Songs of Survival in A Precarious Age

There are so many video installations, animations and sculptures to experience that I think I will definitely have to make another trip, perhaps with Tegan; it’s a great day out for families and children. For me the digital media particularly excels in the way it interpolates image, sound, language and performance. I loved the intensity of Joya Casto’s film which juxtaposes a notorious high-level political exchange with eighteenth century Italian comic opera. Ming Wong’s Life and Death in Venice, eponymous with Thomas Mann’s novella, reinterprets themes of cultural identity, ageing, beauty, as well as classical cinema by referencing the soundtrack from Visconti’s original film of the same.

Inopportune: Stage One by Cai Guo-Qiang

Rohan Wealleans' hybrid animal sculptures are composed in part of polystyrene and fibreglass