Biennale – an occasion to rethink community

“[T]here are at least three kinds of art: there is an art of propaganda, which tries to persuade you of a particular point of view; there is an art of entertainment, which can be high-brow or low-brow, depending upon your taste and on what is available; and there is an art of excavation and exploration, seeking meaning where ordinary human discourse can no longer be trusted to register the subtlety of what is being experienced” (Mark Patrick Hederman).

REDFERN: For the third consecutive year the Redfern Biennale was staged along Walker Street. Connoisseurs and art enthusiasts were invited to view ready-mades, sculptures, multi-media and new media works, paintings, found objects, anything and everything placed along Walker Street between Cooper and Redfern streets.

Fence installation by the Poets Corner Art Group Photo: Kat Hines
Fence installation by the Poets Corner Art Group Photo: Kat Hines

The Redfern Biennale, attracting the work of 50 practising artists and public housing art groups, is an outdoor, eclectic, democratic free-for-all happening. No Council approval is sought; works are simply placed on the streets for seven hours – rain, hail or shine.

The weather on Saturday March 19 was cool and overcast. Many of the artworks expressed a heated frustration with neoliberal ideologies that see diverse inner-city neighbourhoods like Redfern and Waterloo under threat.

Jim Anderson’s “Waterloo Sunset” presented the twin towers he knows best under government attack. Bob Cooney’s “Looking at You” comprised a mirror mounted on a telegraph pole and the inscription: “GOVT LIES. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FUCK PEOPLE OVER TO SURVIVE.”

Other striking works included Jacqueline Hill’s “What Goes Around Comes Around”, Total Bore’s “Double Portrait: Mike Baird and Skeletor”, Blak Douglas’ “Thou Shalt Not Steal”, Neil Evans’ “Waste-Not Whatnot”, and a charming fence installation by the Poets Corner Art Group.

In the recent ARTLINK article on Australian biennales, writer Ian Millis jostles the Redfern Biennale in amongst them all, stating that it breaks the model, creating engagement with the local community and has “… limited audiences and resources, something seen as a feature rather than a failing … an occasion to rethink community, not mass entertainment”.

See Instagram #redfernbiennale for more.

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