‘21st-century contemporary art has shown a marked tendency to co-opt the strategies of drama, with the increasing prevalence of performance-based practices, live art, participation and embodied engagement.’ – Leigh Robb, Curator
Adelaide, Australia: The 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres assembles some of the most provocative Australian artists who will bring their monsters to life through live performances, interactive exhibitions, artist talks and keynote addresses held across the opening weekend from Friday, 28 February at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Botanic Garden and Freemasons Lodge.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the nation’s longest running survey of Australian art, Monster Theatres invites artists to expose the monsters of our time. Curator Leigh Robb says, ‘Endurance performance, sound works, arenas for action, and listening take the stage in Monster Theatres. This exhibition creates encounters with agents of artificial intelligence, the chance to choreograph robots, or to rest and breathe with bees. Agency and power structures will be shifted and redistributed, materialities mutate and morph.’
Seminal performance artist Mike Parr will perform his six-day durational Reading for the end of time at AGSA, testing the limits of voice, stamina and the human body. Pioneering performance Stelarc will perform on his 9-metre robot at AGSA, exploring the human body as a chimera of meat, metal and code in a world ruled by technology. Stelarc, will also address audiences in a keynote presentation titled Contestable chimeras: excess, indifference & obsolescence.
Quandamooka artist Megan Cope responds to geological and industrial histories from the land through an interactive and sonic sculptural installation created using discarded mining machinery and rocks that sound the warning of climate change resembling the bush-stone curlew’s haunting call.
Environmentalist and artist Mike Bianco invites audiences to rest with 50,000 live bees in a participatory experience for the senses in Anthrocomb, a bee experience that explores the spectre of ecological collapse at the Adelaide Botanic Garden.
Soundscape artist Julian Day is concerned with reviving lost histories through sound, breath, and meditative spaces. His musical performance at the Freemasons Lodge, A Civic Space, featuring Barossan brass band and choir, chronicles the story of the Hill & Son Grand Organ since its unveiling in 1877.
Digital ethnographer, socially engaged and widely published artist Professor Larissa Hjorth will deliver a keynote address titled Eco grief, creative practice and hope, reflecting on eco grief and the power of creative practice ethnography to transform how we live in the world at the Freemasons Lodge.
Following the opening weekend, Howl by APHIDS is a commemoration of controversy and the censored performed by women. A requiem that questions who gets to determine arts legitimacy, Howl is aptly scored by Mozart. The ticketed performance, presented in partnership with RCC and Vitalstatistix, takes audiences on a parade through and alongside the Gallery.
Colony by Garry Stewart & The Australian Dance Theatre is a free performance that configures the monster as the morphology and behaviour of the human, manifesting an image of symbiotic integration between multiple bodies into a cooperative whole.
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is a companion exhibition that parallels the themes of Monster Theatres as the historical echo of contemporary monsters that are created as answers to inexplicable events and misfortune. The exhibition invites audiences to experience and explore 600 years of monsters during the Adelaide Biennial.
Monster Theatres will be presented from 28 February to 8 June with exhibitions at AGSA and partner venue, Adelaide Botanic Garden. AGSA presents its associated talks program, ‘In the Arena’ free, thanks to generous support from the Naomi Milgrom Foundation.
Presented in association with the Adelaide Festival, and with generous support received from AGSA Biennial Ambassadors Program and Principal Donor, The Balnaves Foundation. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy.
Opening Night | Fri 28 Feb, 5:30pm, AGSA Forecourt, North Terrace | FREE
Mike Parr Live Performances| Fri 28 Feb – Wed 4 Mar, 10am – 5pm, AGSA | FREE
Artist Talks | Sat 29 Feb, 11am, AGSA | FREE
Mike Bianco Live Performances | Sat 29 Feb & Sun Mar 1, 10am – 5pm, Adelaide Botanic Garden | FREE
Professor Larissa Hjorth Keynote Address | Sat 29 Feb, 3pm Freemasons Lodge | FREE
Stelarc Keynote Address | Sun 1 Mar 11am, Freemasons Lodge | FREE
Adelaide Biennial Artist Talks | Sun 1 Mar, 3pm, Adelaide Botanic Garden| FREE
Garry Stewart & Australian Dance Theatre Company – Colony | Fri 20 – Sun 22 March