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  • Oct 19, 2020

Melbourne’s NGV Triennial Goes Ahead For 2020

Rendering of an installation view for REFIK ANADOL’s Quantum memories, 2020,

As Melbourne emerges from its latest wave of Covid-19 cases, the city’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on October 8 that its 2020 NGV Triennial will go head in NGV International with over 100 Australian and international artists and designers from more than 30 countries. The event is slated for December 19 to April 18, 2021.

Led by NGV director Tony Ellwood, the second edition seeks to embody a microcosm of the world today through the exploration of four themes—illumination, reflection, conservation, and speculation—to examine the impacts of technological development and other pressing issues, such as the pandemic and the climate crisis, on contemporary artistic practices. 

Highlights will include Jeff Koons's large mirrored sculpture Venus (2016–20), which juxtaposes beauty ideals of classical art with modern production technologies, and media artist Refik Anadol's multimedia installation Quantum Memories (2020), a 10-meter high video work commissioned by NGV that combines artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing to respond to rising concerns regarding a future dominated by digital technologies. Alicja Kwade was also commissioned by NGV to create WeltenLinie (2020), an illusionary installation comprising mirrors, panels, and various objects that explore the intersectional relationship between perception and visual experience. Hong Kong-born, Melbourne-based artist Scotty So’s series China Masks (2020) features eight porcelain face masks alongside photographic prints of face masks, responding to the artist’s respective 2020 and 2013 experiences with Covid-19 and SARs in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, film director Liam Young’s futuristic short film Planet City (2020) depicts a scenario where seven billion people are confined to one liveable city due to a climate related world destruction.

Some artworks have been modified to comply with Covid-19 related safety measures. Misaki Kawai’s large-scale indoor playground installation Moja Moja Life: Misaki Kawai for Kids (2020) originally featured interactive touch screens for viewers that have been changed into foot-activated trigger mats and QR codes. 

Despite the Gallery’s Covid-19 induced closure since March, followed by a brief opening in June, the organization remains hopeful that the large-scale event will lift spirits after the city’s eight-month long lockdown. Public health measures such as timed ticketing, hand sanitization, and increased cleaning will be implemented. 

NGV’s inaugural Triennial, which featured over 100 artists and designers from 32 countries and attracted over 1.23 million visitors in 2017, was the most popular exhibition in the Gallery’s history. 

Stephanie Siu is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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