Australia’s profile has never been higher at the Venice Biennale which opened last week in the beautiful lagoon city. Australia's new pavilion opened to much fanfare, and more than 40 Australian artists are showcasing their work in official and collateral exhibitions associated with the world's most prestigious visual arts event.
The strength of Australia’s representation at the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale is echoed in the numerous UNSW Art & Design alumni exhibiting, supporting and participating in the global art event this year.
Australia’s national representative Fiona Hall AO takes pride of place. Hall received a Diploma in Art from UNSW Art & Design in 1975 when, in an earlier incarnation, it was the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education.
Hall’s exhibition Wrong Way Time features more than 1000 works and objects, complementing the new Australian Pavilion perfectly. Beyond being Australia’s representative, Hall’s concerns are global: critiquing the political, environmental and financial state of the world and reflecting Okwui Enwezor's thematics encapsulated in the Biennale title All the World's Futures.
If you can’t make it to Venice then catch Hall’s work (among other artists’) at Interchange: A printmaking dialogue between Australia and Thailand currently exhibiting in Mosman Art Gallery until 12 July 2015.
Among the seven Australians chosen for inclusion in the 2015 Venice Biennale’s headline international art exhibition, is Newell Harry, who completed a BFA in 2000, an MFA in 2004, and was a sessional lecturer 2010-2013.
Megan Monte, who completed a Masters in Art Administration (now a Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership) was selected as an Emerging Curator. In this role, Monte will take part in Venice’s renowned Vernissage, a three-day professional preview period, attended by more than 30,000 people from the global visual arts community. During this time Monte has the opportunity to participate in forums and curatorial events alongside the world’s contemporary art practitioners and leaders. Emerging Curators also guide tours and write articles about the experience for the Australia Council’s online magazine.
That’s not all. Art & Design UNSW alumni are providing assistance in various roles. Unsurprisingly, these volunteer positions are highly coveted and the selection process competitive. Successful applicants receive assistance with travel, accommodation and day-to-day living expenses and thrive on the incredible experience.
Katherine Wilkinson in one of seven Australian Pavilion Exhibition Team Leaders managing the day to day running of the Australian Pavilion throughout the seven-month exhibition. Rostered on four to five weeks, she leads the team of volunteer exhibition attendants, meet and greet visitors, provide guided tours and a range of other public engagement and educational programs throughout the exhibition.
Bronwyn Papantonio is Projects Officer, International Signature Projects and Andrew Moran has a dual role as an exhibition installer and Pavilion Exhibition attendant. Others attendants who completed their degrees at A&D are Victoria Maxwell, Alyce Neal and Olivia Welch.
The prominence of UNSW Art & Design at this year's Biennale is part of a rich and ongoing history of alumni and staff represented at the Biennale. This stellar line up includes Hany Armanious, the Australian representative in the 2011 Biennale; Shaun Gladwell, representative in 2009, with Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro; and UNSW Galleries Director Felicity Fenner’s role as curator of Australia’s national exhibition in the same year.
You can see the complete history of Australia’s role at the Biennale on the Australia Council for the Arts website.