From December 3, 2023, to April 7, 2024, the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) International will transform into a global hub of contemporary art, design, and architecture as it plays host to the NGV Triennial 2023. This expansive exhibition, which is open to the public and free of charge, will feature over 75 projects by 100 artists, designers, and collectives representing more than 30 countries. Through the lens of contemporary practice, it offers a rich and diverse snapshot of today’s world.

The NGV Triennial transcends traditional boundaries, uniting various artistic disciplines across all four levels of the gallery. It presents a captivating array of works, ranging from robotics to tapestry and from mysticism to megacities. In doing so, it invites audiences to reflect on the current state of our world while envisioning a future shaped by creativity and insight.

Among the featured artists are global luminaries such as Sheila Hicks (USA), Tracey Emin (UK), Yoko Ono (Japan), and David Shrigley (UK), each bringing their unique perspectives to the forefront through their artistry. Notably, the NGV has commissioned over 25 world-premiere projects specifically for this exhibition, showcasing the innovative responses of both established and emerging artists to the critical issues of our time.

One of the most highly anticipated installations comes from Polish-born artist Agnieszka Pilat, who will unveil her creation featuring Boston Dynamics robot dogs trained to autonomously create large-scale paintings. This piece serves as a symbol of the intersection between technology and art, offering a thought-provoking reflection on the influence of AI in contemporary society.

In a special collaboration, the NGV has joined forces with the renowned Paris haute couture house Schiaparelli. Artistic director Daniel Roseberry will present a selection of works from recent collections, accompanied by opulent surrealist accessories. This exhibit, set in a celestial environment, pushes the boundaries of couture, forging a profound connection between art, fashion, and contemporary life.

Yoko Ono, an iconic figure in the counter-culture, will leave a significant mark on the NGV International’s façade with a large-scale text-based work. Drawing upon her six-decade-long conceptual practice, Ono’s installation offers a blend of poetic, confessional, and political commentary.

The NGV Triennial will also feature recently acquired works by British artist Tracey Emin, celebrated for her autobiographical and confessional art. The display encompasses a five-meter-high text-based neon light installation, abstract bronze sculptures, and emotionally charged paintings, all of which confront intense moments of human emotion.

American sculptor Sheila Hicks will introduce her major installation, ‘Nowhere to Go,’ utilizing her signature colorful fiber forms to create an imposing yet playful structure, exploring architectural space and the emotional potential of color.

David Shrigley’s ‘Really Good,’ a seven-meter-high thumbs-up sculpture originally conceived for London’s Trafalgar Square, injects humor and irony into the exhibition, reflecting the artist’s unique perspective on the absurdities of everyday life.

Collaborative artists Elmgreen and Dragset present a dynamic sculptural installation that combines multiple works, delving into their distinctive approach to sculpture and installation, including a tightrope-walking figure symbolizing a tragic fate.

Maison Schiaparelli

One of the exhibition’s highlights is ‘Mun-dirra,’ a monumental one-hundred-meter-long woven fish fence produced over two years by ten artists working with apprentices in Maningrida, Arnhem Land. This immersive installation, inviting visitors inside, represents one of the two common types of fish traps produced in the area. The weavers, from the Burarra language group in east-side Arnhem Land, specialize in customary weaving. Through their woven forms, they convey a powerful narrative of matrilineal knowledge transfer and the sustainable coexistence of Yolngu people with the land over generations.

Tokyo-based artist Azuma Makoto presents a room-sized installation as a tribute to the enchanting beauty and vitality of plants. After freezing numerous Australian flowers and botanicals into crystalline acrylic blocks, the artist places these jewel-like sculptural elements in dialogue with a captivating multi-screen film depicting the life and death of flowers. Makoto prompts us to explore the intricate and delicate relationship between humans and plants.

American artist Hugh Hayden, whose work delves into class, race, education, and cultural assimilation, will exhibit his 2022 installation, ‘The end,’ for the NGV Triennial. Taking over an entire gallery space, the work portrays an apocalyptic elementary school classroom, overrun by branches and dodo skeletons. Also on display will be Hayden’s 2020 work ‘The Cosby’s,’ comprising cast iron skillets reimagined as West African masks, offering commentary on the cultural impact of the African diaspora on American entertainment, food, industry, and society.

‘Megacities’ is a large-scale, NGV-commissioned presentation that invites ten leading street photographers to capture the urban environments of ten global megacities, each with a population exceeding 10 million: Cairo, Dhaka, Jakarta, Delhi, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Seoul, Lagos, Tokyo, and Mexico City. Collaborating with the NGV, these photographers will showcase their work in a dynamic, immersive environment, shedding light on a defining aspect of the twenty-first century – the dominance of urban living and our rapid transformation into an urban species.

The NGV Triennial 2023 is anchored by three key thematic pillars: Magic, Matter, and Memory. These themes offer insights into the concerns of the artists and designers participating in the exhibition, weaving a rich tapestry of discourse that flows through the various projects.

The theme of Magic delves into belief systems, allegory, and symbolism, illuminating how human spirituality has shaped the world around us. Matter draws connections between nature, materials, and craftsmanship, underscoring the central role that materials and the natural world play in shaping human culture. Memory casts a spotlight on the histories of individuals, places, and objects that compose the intricate tapestry of our contemporary world.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director of NGV, notes, “In the three years since the last NGV Triennial, the world has experienced a great many structural shifts, including a global pandemic. Through the work of more than 100 artists, designers, architects, and collectives from Australia and around the world, the NGV Triennial offers a powerful insight into the ideas and concerns empowering creative practice in 2023.”

He further emphasizes, “The artists, designers, and architects of our time play an important role in helping us to understand, navigate, and relate to the world around us. The 2023 NGV Triennial offers audiences a valuable opportunity to experience new and surprising forms of creative expression from around the globe, which, together, present a compelling snapshot of the world as it is, while also asking how we would like it to be.”

Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos adds, “The NGV Triennial has become the place to see the best in contemporary art and design all under one roof – right here in Melbourne. We bring the biggest and best art exhibitions to Victoria because we know how important they are to attract visitors, support local jobs, and boost businesses.”

The NGV Triennial 2023 will be on display from December 3, 2023, to April 7, 2024, at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne.


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