13 projects before '13 Rooms'

Friday, March 22, 2013

It’s no coincidence that 13 Rooms is taking place in 2013, and in fact the historically unlucky number seems to be working out rather well for us.

Staring fearlessly into the face of superstition, here is a count-back through 13 of our most relevant Projects, which pre-quelled 13 Rooms. When you look at it this way – it’s not all that surprising that we put dibs on the project and brought it to Sydney as soon as we could.


Project 26: Allora & Calzadilla
Last year we migrated to the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne for a month to present Stop, Repair, Prepare… a captivating performance work by the duo Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla. Despite these artists' plethora of working mediums, we are presenting yet another of their performances in 13 Rooms (Nifty coincidence that the Sydneysiders who couldn’t make it down to Melbourne now get to see their work, huh). Like Stop, Repair, Prepare… Allora & Calzadilla’s 13 Rooms work Revolving Door involves a highly-trained set of performers. This time we are working with Rafael Bonachela and the Sydney Dance Company.


Project 25: Thomas Demand
In 2012, Thomas Demand occupied a floor of bedrooms in the iconic pod-shaped building at Martin Place, so familiar from-the-outside but rarely visited, the building was the Harry Seidler-designed Commercial Travellers' Association and Demand used this exterior and interior as an integral part of the work. 13 Rooms will also transform a Sydney landmark, the historic Pier 2/3 and guess who our architectural partners are? Yep, Harry Seidler & Associates Architects are responsible for quite a brilliant layout of the 13 Rooms.

Project 24: Michael Landy
Michael Landy’s installation in Martin Place and of 200 sites thoughout greater Sydney in 2011, aimed to directly involve residents of the city in a kind of exchange. Human interaction and exchanges are a really important element of the 13 Rooms experience too – especially in Roman Ondák's Swap where audience members are asked to trade objects with the performers.

Project 23: John Baldessari
This 2011 project played with the idea of celebrity by giving anyone who registered to be part of it the chance to have their name featured on a giant sparkling sign high above William Steet. Over 100 000 Sydneysider’s participated in this work, and now we return John Baldessari to our city for 13 Rooms, involving local artists this time in Thirteen Colourful Inside Jobs.


Project 22: Santiago Sierra
In 2011 for our 22nd Project, Santiago Sierra called upon unemployed Australians to perform his work 7 forms measuring 600 x 60 x 60 cm constructed to be held horizontal to a wall. For his return to Australia for 13 Rooms, Sierra is involving yet another niche of Australian society, asking Australian war veterans to perform his work Veterans of the wars of Afghanistan, Timor-Leste, Iraq and Vietnam Facing the Corner.


Project 19: Tatzu Nishi
You probably know the giant sculptures of people on horseback that flank the entrance to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, right? In 2010 Tatzu Nishi gave people an opportunity to get up close with them by building ramp-accessible rooms that let viewers get up close with Gilbert Bayes' equestrian monuments. Building rooms that put you up close and personal with an artwork? How about we build you 13 of them.


Project 16: Gregor Schneider
In 2007 Gregor Schneider set up a complex of open cages on Bondi Beach and equipped them with air mattresses, umbrellas and garbage bags. Schneider works with the psychology of spaces, something that is explored through the individual rooms of the 13 Rooms project. Each space has a door and is rather small, building an environment where you are quite literally thrown into each artwork as you step through the doorway. We’re not going to lie – you’ll probably have very different experiences with each work, some humorous, some breathtaking and others, challenging.


Project 12: Vanessa Beecroft
In Vanessa Beecroft's art she uses live models to create situations that reference film and fashion as well as art history. She presented one of these works at the Museum of Contemporary Art for her 1999 Kaldor Public Art Project, and this phenomenon of having people perform the artworks is at the heart of 13 Rooms.  Have a think about the likes of Tino Sehgal and his 'constructed situations' where audiences are flung into orchestrated interactions with trained performers.

Project 10: Jeff Koons
We can’t believe it was 18 years ago that a 5 story steel-framed flower-covered Jeff Koons sculpture was erected outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, creating one of the most irresistibly photogenic situations ever (how could the combo of a giant puppy, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Jeff Koons be anything different), as well as cementing Puppy into a distinctly Australian view. In fact, we’ve utilised Sydney’s iconic harbor for the presentation of a number of projects including Cockatoo Island for Project 15: Urs Fisher in 2007 and now Pier 2/3 for 13 Rooms. I guess it’s safe to say that we can see the value in installing art projects in locations which help them to resonate as distinctly Australian. It also helps put Australia on the contemporary art map, and I mean really - who can resist the temptation of working with gorgeous heritage site?

Project 7: Richard Long
A familiar piece from the John Kaldor Family Gallery, Richard Long's Stone Line was first constructed as part of Project 7 in 1977. Long's geometric work was made out of natural and local materials. This relationship to place is crucial to 13 Rooms. 13 Rooms picks up artists along the way, growing by a room each time it's presented. We are thrilled that Brisbane artists !--a href="" target="_blank">Clark Beaumont Clark Beaumont are a little piece of Australia that gets to travel the world with this ever-growing exhibition.

Project 5: Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik (let’s call him the grand-daddy of video art) famously extended the possibilities of what sculpture could be with his works that incorporated television sets and video elements. His 1976 Project with Charlotte Moorman garnered huge amounts of attention for performances where she was naked and playing a cello made of ice, or suspended by balloons, or covered in chocolate. The legacy of these experiments with performance and sculpture is clear in 13 Rooms, which Co-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has described as “a sculpture gallery where the sculptures go home at night”.

Project 3: Gilbert & George
These two are the original 'living sculptures' and the original inspiration for the 13 Rooms project. The duo came up with the term as a way to describe their work and they've been living as sculptures now for more than than forty years. We brought Gilbert & George to Australia for the third ever Kaldor Public Art Project back in 1973 (and also for a short Valentine's Day tour in 2010) – it’s only fair that we bring Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist’s interpretation of their concept back to our shores 40 years later.

Project 1: Christo and Jeanne-Claude's Wrapped Coast
This is the big one: wrapping 2.5 kilometres of coastline in fabric was obviously a enormous undertaking, but it was also just the start. Since this happened in 1969 we have brought 26 projects by major international artists to Australia. What’s bigger than physically wrapping up the worlds biggest sculpture? How about 2 of the biggest international curators, 13 world famous artists, 13 conceptually inspiring artworks, 13 custom-built rooms on a heritage site and over 140 local interpreters crammed into just 11 days - alongside talks, events, workshops and late-night programs.



Having said all this, it's not only the history of Kaldor Public Art projects which is relevant to 13 Rooms during it's stay in Sydney. Check out our latest documentary episode below to find out about how the project fits into the history of Australian performance art. This episode features thoughts on the topic by both John Kaldor, as well as Australian performance artist Diana Smith from Sydney based collaboration Brown Council.