Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time @ the National Gallery of AustraliaShare Event on Facebook Share Event on Twitter Share Event on LinkedIn
Fiona Hall has an enigmatic style about her. Her gossamer like grey hair that falls over most of her facce and a countenance that seems to drift away to her other world among all the white noise we endure has a mysteriousness, but this artist has created a body of work that is formidable. She has for my art experiences been unique and extraordinary in the world of contemporary art, and that her entire Wrong Way Time exhibition has come back from the Venice Biennale to the National Gallery of Australia is a fitting tribute to her effort and success at that international venue.
I first remember the sardine-tin sculptures, Paradisus terrestris 1989 – 90, installed in an upstairs gallery at the NGA more than 20 years ago and loved seeing the reaction of the public and particularly the school kids who would giggle with delight as they gazed at the detail of the sculptures when the erotic became evident. They’re back in the companion exhibition space curated by Deborah Hart to bring out the best of the NGA’s Fiona Hall collection and complementing Wrong Way Time and should be on permanent display.
Of course the space between the NGA’s old and new buildings that Hall turned into the most beautiful fern garden is there to see, enjoy and marvel at as the refurb it needed has been completed in time for this exhibition, and can be viewed from the foyer. Not, Hall assures us, in the Jamie Durie style of garden makeovers but a spruce up keeping the cool, calm contemplative space that always reminds me of Eugene von Guerard’s paintings.
And what an exhibition. Wrong Way Time is overwhelming in many aspects, it needs time and patience to absorb and understand the enormity of what Hall has created and let the metaphors and impact sink in. Her genius is in the detail that is microscopic at times, she brings together disparate elements and makes us stop and think about her vision from a global perspective encompassing, politics, finances and the environment. Originally curated for the Venice Biennale by Linda Michael, 800 curiosities fill the huge cabinets, surrounding walls and a cosy corner for the exquisite weaving of Kuka iritja – Animals from another time – by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
The glass on one cabinet is etched with the bank note numbers from the now shredded notes that make the nests and containers. They are akin to old chemistry laboratory cabinetry once proudly displaying bottles curiosities at the Institute of Anatomy, and the old world reference is appropriate. The clocks tick, the cuckoos pop out, the animals shimmer and glow and time moves inexorably on in Fiona Hall’s Wrong Way Time Exhibition.
Make time for Wrong Way Time.