Melbourne gets its own recurring festival of art – starting this summer Sydney has the Biennale, Adelaide has its Biennial – and finally Melbourne has its own recurring festival of contemporary art. The inaugural NGV Triennial will feature more than 100 artists and designers from more than 30 countries, and surveys the world of art and design, across cultures, scales, geographies and perspectives. A free exhibition, the NGV Triennial is a celebration of contemporary art and design practice that traverses all four levels of NGV International, as well as offering a rich array of programs. The NGV Triennial explores cutting edge technologies, architecture, animation, performance, film, painting, drawing, fashion design, tapestry and sculpture. Visitors have an opportunity to look at the world and its past, present and future through the eyes of some of the most creative minds working today. Big names include Yayoi Kusama, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Xu Zhen, Candice Breitz, and couturiers Guo Pei and Iris van Herpen.
As its point of difference from offerings in other states, the NGV Triennial will focus on art and design and how to two inform each other. Twenty new works have been commissioned for the Triennial, from artists including Chinese couture superstar Guo Pei (whose canary-yellow cape gown won Rihanna the red carpet at the Met Gala in 2015), Japanese collective teamLab, Australian sculptor Ron Mueck, Chinese sculptor and installation artist Xu Zhen, and Argentian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou – who will create a 100m2 carpet landscape inspired by the Santa Cruz River, a glacial flow that is under threat from two proposed dams. Kusama’s immersive new installation invites visitors to apply a ‘flower motif’ to a room, over four months – until it is “obliterated”. Other works are drawn from recent practice such as three stunning monochrome self-portraits by South African artist (and prolific documenter of the LGBTQIA community) Zanele Muholi, from her 2015 series Somnyama Ngonyama (meaning ‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’).
The local talent list features Ben Quilty, Brodie Neill, Büro North, the Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, Louisa Bufardeci, the Bula’bula Artists, Reko Rennie, Riley Payne, Ron Mueck, Sean O’Connell, and Tom Crago. “In talking to the artists, five conceptual themes emerged,” NGV director Tony Ellwood says: the body, change, movement, time, and the virtual. The exhibition and associated public programs will take these themes as topics for conversation.