photo of Lee Mingwei’s Mending Room installation, 52 Renshaw Street
I arrived slightly early for my tour with Lorenzo Fusi, curator of the public realm of the Biennial. As the other winner wasn’t able to attend, I was asked if I would like to bring a guest. Cue a quick phonecall to my husband doing errands nearby and he agreed to join me. Lorenzo arrived a few minutes later and we set off from the visitors centre:
We strolled through the ground floor while Lorenzo outlined the themes of works exhibited within, broadly relating to the idea ‘rethinking trade’. Visitors can have items mended with brightly coloured threads in Lee Mingwei’s exhibtion. He himself was mending during the first two weeks of the Biennial, now volunteers have taken over. Ideally items can be left until the end of the exhibition as part of the display.
I asked him about the challenges of working in a disused space, and how easy or difficult it was to get permission for the building to be used in the Biennial. He admitted it was quite challenging from a logistical standpoint; there are four separate electrical systems inside the former Rapid store. No one knew how to fix the elevator when it broke. And so on.
I asked to go downstairs to Ryan Trecartin’s video installation trilogy; I had a visceral dislike of them upon first viewing and wanted to try to understand a bit more about why they had been selected. We watched one film, it felt like for at least ten to fifteen minutes, though I’m sure we didn’t stay there quite so long. Each is a visual and aural mashup, skin colour and voice are altered or distorted on each of the participants. Lorenzo talked about the controlled chaos of Trecartin’s films, how it seems like they’re purely frenetically random, but that it takes a great deal of time and editing to make each one. Also he admitted that he wanted to sex up the show a little bit by including them, otherwise it risked being too safe. That made me smile; I still don’t care for the trilogy, but I can’t fault Lorenzo’s desire to include something provocative.
Thanks to all at the Biennial who made this event happen, especially Lorenzo for sharing his time and insights.