Connect with Everything
Museum of Contemporary Art
Until 05 March, 2017
As the names suggests, The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (abbreviated MCA), located in Sydney, is solely dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting and collecting contemporary art, both from across Australia and around the world. It is situated on prime real estate facing Sydney harbour vis-à-vis from the reflections of the iconic concrete shells of the Opera House and is housed in the art deco-style former Maritime Services Board Building on the Western edge of Circular Quay.
The museum was opened in 1991 as the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and from 2010 underwent an A$58 million expansion, which culminated in combining the old sandstone facade with a new modern, non-fuss structure. Housing three new galleries on multiple levels along with a roof top café with a sculptural terrace, allowing visitors full advantage of the view, the use of an education centre cum lecture theatre and entry via a substantial plaza and broad staircase, the inner version of which provides cohesion by allowing light to flood in, creating a grand sense of arrival.
MCA’s collection contains over 4,000 works by Australian artists that have been acquired since 1989 and spans a wide array of art forms with strong holdings in painting, photography, sculpture, works on paper and moving image, as well as significant representation of works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
Miyajima’s exhibition is part of Sydney’s International Art Series, which previously welcomed Anish Kapoor, Yoko Ono, Chuck Close and most recently Grayson Perry on terra australis.
Connect with Everything is Tatsuo Miyajima’s biggest exhibition in Australasia to date and represents something of a survey of his immersive and technology driven oeuvre over his four decades spanning career. The manifestation of his art with the theme of connectedness is informed by three core interwoven principles that pervade his installations: Everything is in a state of flux; everything is related to everything else and everything is ultimately part of an eternal cycle.
The whole exhibition appears as a profound meditation on the shape of time and the cycle of reincarnation within the confines of our existence. A mediation that is based on often complex light emitting diodes installations, whose universal accessibility and endlessly looped countdowns, which in Miyajima’s eyes resemble the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence, are diametrically opposed to the Western thought of the linearity of time. The importance of the now, a reminder that our time on this earthround is finite and the fact that time is everyone’s master.
Throughout the exhibition, this axiom is accentuated by the use of a certain palette of colours, most prominently blue hinting at the sky, the universe, infinity; with red and green evoking associations with fire and nature; white representing, well, enWHITEnment.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is Mega Death, which was commissioned for the 1999 Venice Biennale: A vast chamber with three walls comprised of 3,000 twinkling blue LED digital counters, each counting down from nine to one, with zero signifying the time of death before life starts over again, and programmed to interact with each other at varying speeds, giving chance a significant role and at certain intervals blacking out.
A metaphor for the twentieth century, the century of death on an industrial scale resulting from wars, the holocaust, natural catastrophes, terrorism and specifically the tragedies Japan had to endure, i.e. from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
From a cyclical angle also a metaphor for humanity’s capacity to heal, recover and begin anew.
Another major installation is Arrow of Time (2016), a term used in quantum physics representing time’s irreversibility. Arrow of Time is designed to make people gaze at the space above them to watch several hundred ceiling-mounted LEDs and contemplate the passing of time, the irretrievable nature of each moment, mortality, the magneticism of death and what this means to each person individually.
Sea of Time is a 20 meter long waterway installation, which was first and originally conceived under participation of the townspeople of Naoshima Island, the home of Benesse House, which shall soon be shed light on in an upcoming feature, serving as an opportunity to interject modern art into the lives of the islanders and the local Japanese area.
Time Train to the Holocaust was originally created by Miyajima as an installation for the German town of Recklinghausen, a centre for coal production in Germany: A toy train hauling small luminous blue counter gadgets around seven tons of coal, another installation with bright red LED counters interspersing the coals, signifying the finite capacity of our natural resources.
While playful at first glance, the train alludes to the sinister German efficiency in one of the darkest chapters of humanity: The very same mode of transport used for transporting coals or to get passengers in a timely manner form A to B, was run by the Deutsche Reichsbahn for the purpose of forcible deportation of the Jews as well as other victims of the Holocaust to the concentration, forced labour and extermination camps – mass transportation as an enabler for evil, as modern historians suggest, without which the scale of the final solution would not have been possible.
At face value, Connect with Everything is about time and technology. A closer examination reveals that this is just a mere vehicle to resonate with the audience on a far more personal and humanist level: Personal as Miyajima extends the dialogue between art and audience and presents time as something that only through human interaction becomes a visual manifestation, with unpredictability being a metaphor for life itself.
Musings that the pop-up Cherry Blossom Bar at the MCA provides an ideal backdrop for, with the food menu paying homage to the cuisine of Miyajima’s home country and sake and Japanese whiskey based cocktail providing inspiration.
Photos by KAVV
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