THE BIENNALE OF SYDNEY 1: ISLAND FEVER
It could be argued that the Biennale of Sydney begins with an opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). This is the first opportunity for artists and curators from every corner of the globe to meet or catch up with each other, sometimes after many years. As a result the MCA opens in an atmosphere of considerable excitement and there is a tendency for many visitors to peak too early. The paparazzi wisely missed the MCA opening. On the second night there were openings at Artspace followed by the BIG one on Cockatoo Island and the misery was palpable. Artspace hosted a quality opening, friendly and not overcrowded. Image wise, it was a stroke of genius to allocate bar duties to the fabulous Justene Williams. Justene generates instant atmosphere by her presence alone.
After Artspace, if there is such a condition, and finding it difficult leave, people drifted towards the appropriate Piers to catch the ferry to Cockatoo Island. And then something horrible happened. Hordes were met by no ferry. An hour and half slipped by during which every boat on the harbour turned out to be a cruel tease. The temperatures dropped and sea breezes seemed like icy blasts. Perhaps only Beckett could have appreciated the absurdity of the situation as this mass enactment of Godot saw many people leave the theatre well before a large ferry arrived to scoop up the survivors. The Island party was a comparatively somber affair this year although Melbourne artists Nat&Ali did their darnedest to ensure that everyone within a mile radius was well entertained. And get those two together with Christian Thompson! Anyway … the paparazzi did get some good snaps and woke up the following morning with a hangover lite, after 75% less alcohol. And that’s a first.