The first ever NGV Triennial is the kind of sweeping, audacious exhibition that’s worthy of our increasingly globalised and pluralistic art world. The blockbuster summer show – the institution’s most ambitious – showcases works by some 100 artists and designers, from over 32 countries, installed across four levels of NGV International.
Shows of this scope can come off as lofty or excessively crowd-pleasing (how can institutions better grapple with the omnipresence of Instagram?). But on this occasion, hopes are matched by curatorial rigour. Ron Mueck’s installation Mass, a field of giant skulls, works as a memento mori while recalling the histories of Cambodia, Rwanda and Iraq – as well as the West’s political complicity. Meanwhile, crystalline dresses from the legendary Chinese couturier Guo Pei, a landscape made from carpet by Argentinian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou and an olfactory display from Norway’s Sissel Tolaas are both cerebral and visceral. Sure, the Triennial offers a snapshot of the artistic and cultural production that currently defines our era along with the issues that plague this cultural moment. It also reminds us that contemporary art should make us think, feel and ask questions. After all, art can help us imagine the world we want to live in and exhibitions like this one are a timely reminder. The NGV Triennial shows at the NGV International until April 15, 2018.
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