NGV’s new blockbuster Triennial brings together over 100 artists and designers

art piece in a room with black and white stripes on the walls and ground, colourful string stretched creating different patterns
Untitled, 2017, by Pae White.
(Image credit: Shaughn and John)

Recognising the dissolution of boundaries between artistic and commercial design practices, the inaugural Triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) surveys the work of over 100 participants from 32 countries. Beyond its tactile, interactive and technologically impressive veneer lies an epically immersive exhibition. ‘We wanted to evoke a journey of discovery and encourage participation from our audiences with a range of awe-inspiring and confronting pieces,’ asserts NGV director Tony Ellwood.

Registering a world where resources are depleting and old power structures and borders are falling, it also acknowledges emerging alternatives. Featuring tapestry, sculpture, fashion design, painting and drawing in addition to virtual realities, architecture, animation, performance and film, the Triennial examines the consequences of globalisation on a cultural, scientific, political and psychological basis. ‘The artists, designers and innovators are at the forefront of their practices ... working with a range of cutting edge technologies including robotics and 3D scanning and printing,’ adds Ellwood.  

Twenty large-scale works have been commissioned including Ron Mueck’s most ambitious to date: Mass, a modern-day memento mori. An enormous human skull peers beyond the 18th and 19th-century European collection rooms as a glaring reminder of our mortality in an age of material and narcissistic pursuit. Another chamber is stacked with oversized resin-cast skulls recalling iconic images documenting the human atrocities conducted within extremist regimes, whilst serving as a looming reminder of those currently living within them.

Many pieces focus on the movement of people, with several critiquing the refugee crisis. Richard Mosse’s video work, Incoming, uses a telescopic thermal black and white imaging camera developed for military use to document journeys by refugees. The blurred yet intimate imagery creates an uncomfortable friction, giving clarity to their urgent stories.

A crowd-pleaser is Japanese collective teamLab’s immersive digital installation. Aquatic whirlpools and ripples register underfoot in response to people’s presence and movement, reflecting a borderless world where communities must unite to navigate a better future for natural ecosystems. Alexandra Kehayoglou’s Santa Cruz River symbolises the pitfalls of foreign investment in financially struggling countries. Merging traditional rug-making techniques with detailed site analysis and drone footage, her textural 100 sq m carpet is inspired by Argentina’s last free-flowing river currently under threat by Chinese investors eager to convert it into hydroelectricity dams.

large art piece in yellow with branch like shapes

Victoria Amazonica, 2017, by Estudio Campana, Yarrenyty Arltere Artists, and Elliat Rich.

(Image credit: John Gollings)

Italian design duo Studio Formafantasma provide productive solutions to tackle e-waste with products crafted from recycled hi-tech electronics. ‘Ore Streams’ reinterprets the modernist office with hybrid equipment. Accompanying interviews with manufacturers, Interpol, recyclers, academics and engineers argue that a global economy must develop a universal system of recycling.

Celebrating communities in harmony with the land is Victoria Amazonica, an enormous dome featuring intricate embroidery illustrating stories of nature’s rejuvenation via rain and rivers. Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana collaborated with the indigenous Australian community arts enterprise Yarrenyty Arltere Artists to illustrate the potential of harmonious cross-cultural relationships.

One of the most interactive commissioned works is Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession, staged inside a fully furnished apartment. Visitors are given a red flower sticker to place where they like inside. Over the duration of the exhibition the walls and objects will be obliterated, revealing an infinity field of red florets. Its universal message, like so many pieces in the Triennial, is that our actions impact our immediate surroundings more profoundly than most of us acknowledge.

the santa cruz river in model format in a gallery the flows down a wall and a mirror on the ceiling reflecting the river below

Santa Cruz River, 2017, by Alexandra Kehayoglou. 

(Image credit: Ben Swinnerton)

close up of santa cruz art piece showing the water and shrubbery on the banks

Detail of Santa Cruz River, 2017, by Alexandra Kehayoglou.

(Image credit: Ben Swinnerton)

white garden fencing around a lawn with a statue of a lady , tall buildings can be seen in the distance

Garden Wall, 2017, by Retallack Thompson and Other Architects. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne with the support of RMIT University, Golden Age Group and Hugh DT Williamson Foundation.

(Image credit: John Gollings)

walkways between sheer white fencing

Garden Wall, 2017, by Retallack Thompson and Other Architects. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne with the support of RMIT University, Golden Age Group and Hugh DT Williamson Foundation.

(Image credit: John Gollings)

silver and green foil arranged in an art piece

Spearmint to Peppermint, 2013, by Pae White. Courtesy of the artist and 1301PE, Los Angeles

(Image credit: TBC)

art piece on display created with reflective pieces shaped to points

Epistrophy, 2016-17, by Timo Nasseri.

(Image credit: Tom Ross)

silver chairs in art display with different designs

Manga chairs, 2015, by Nendo. 

(Image credit: John Gollings)

art gallery with black and white art pieces on the wall

Incoming, 2015-2016, by Richard Mosse.

(Image credit: Sean Fennessy)

three human shaped statues in an art gallery, two covered in silver with large hoods, one its back and legs in the air

Soundsuit, 2015, by Nick Cave. 

(Image credit: Sean Fennessy)

mannequin dressed in silver in an art gallery with a large red and white target covering the head and torso

Soundsuit, 2015, by Nick Cave. 

(Image credit: Shaughn and John)

art piece of trainer hovering over lots of small clay pieces in the shape of people

Don’t Worry, 2015, by Olaf Breuning. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

(Image credit: TBC)

art display in room with black and white patterns on the walls and ground with hanging coloured strings in different shapes

Untitled, 2017, by Pae White. 

(Image credit: Shaughn and John)

different art pieces encased in a glass cabinet

Las Meninas (2Xist), 2013, by Josephine Meckseper. Courtesy of the artist

(Image credit: TBC)

room with green patterned bench, blue shelves and yellow patterned wallpaper

Noss Noss, 2014, by Hassan Hajjaj. 

(Image credit: Tom Ross)

Low round table with white center fading through shade of blue to black on the edge

‘Gyro’ table, 2016, by Brodie Neill. © Brodie Neill Ltd. 

(Image credit: Angela Moore)

mannequin wearing a bright blue dress in a art gallery with concrete pillars

Dress, 2011, by Iris van Herpen. 

(Image credit: Eugene Hyland)

different chairs on display in an art gallery

Installation view of Joris Laarman’s work on display at NGV International. 

(Image credit: Sean Fennessy)

Art piece of two women standing in swirls in front of mirrors

Moving Creates Vortices and Vortices Create Movement, 2017, by teamLab. © The artists. Courtesy of Ikkan Art Gallery, Martin Browne Contemporary and Pace Gallery

(Image credit: TBC)

digital drawing of sump system in gray and white

Detail of Sump System, 2015-16, by Richard Giblett. Courtesy of the artist and Murray White Room, Melbourne

(Image credit: TBC)

concrete cubes with one coloured side

Detail of Coloured stones (Pavés colorés), 2015, by Pascale Marthine Tayou. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua, Les Moulins/San Gimignano/Beijing

(Image credit: TBC)

draped marble over wooden table in an art gallery

Draped marble (Fior di Pesco Carnico, Fior di Pesco Apuano, Crema Dorlion, Onyx), 2015, by Analia Saban. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

(Image credit: TBC)

large lamps hanging on display with large dried grass like shades

PET Lamp Ramingining: Bukmukgu Guyananhawuy (Every family thinking forward), 2016, by Alvaro Catalán de Ocón and Bula’Bula Artists. 

(Image credit: Tom Ross)

art gallery with large paintings on the walls and a desk and drawers in the center of the room

Ore Streams, 2017, by Studio Formafantasma. 

(Image credit: Tom Ross)

different size tv screens on display in an art gallery

Ore Streams, 2017, by Studio Formafantasma. 

(Image credit: Tom Ross)

photographs hanging in an art gallery with the images having fading development

Bartlebooth Monument, 2011-15, by Jorge Mendez Blake. 

(Image credit: Sean Fennessy)

large human like skulls stacked in a display and rolling away in an art gallery

Mass, 2017, by Ron Mueck.

(Image credit: Sean Fennessy)

art gallery with mutli coloured art displays on the walls like mosaics

Hands On: We Make Carpets for Kids, 2017, by We Make Carpets. 

(Image credit: John Gollings)

art display of a mosaic like wall with differnt colored pieces that can be added to

Hands On: We Make Carpets for Kids, 2017, by We Make Carpets. 

(Image credit: Sean Fennessy)

INFORMATION 

The NGV Triennial runs until 15 April. For more information, visit the National Gallery of Victoria website (opens in new tab)

ADDRESS

National Gallery of Victoria
180 St Kilda Road
Melbourne VIC 3006