“The title of the inaugural Biennial Lab, What happens now? is derived from an anonymous paste-up program throughout New York City in 1979 by American artist Jenny Holzer,” explains Natalie.
“While anchoring the curatorial framework, the proposition What happens now? offers an open-ended inquiry and the prospect of imagining new possibilities. By asking about ‘now’, we can interrogate the multi-layered and deeply condensed history of the Biennial Lab site: Queen Victoria Market. Established in 1878 as part of the Council’s mandate to manage Melbourne’s consortium of markets, the Market also resides on one of Melbourne’s earliest cemeteries. Queen Victoria Market provides a place to imagine the traces of Indigenous, mercantile, migratory and colonial histories that are embedded within the site.
“The capacious title What happens now? suggests that we are at a crossroads in our city while allowing artists to probe and experiment: What is the role of anti-monuments? How can we work with local communities within larger social and cultural structures? How can the Biennial Lab be an incubator or micro-ecology? What can ‘happen’ in a market situation that is voluble on some days yet static on others during the weekly market calendar cycle of open/closed, day/night? How can we listen to the murmurings of Melbourne?”
The Biennial Lab activations are a result of a week-long intensive Lab led by Situations' Claire Doherty, David Cross (One Day Sculpture) and Natalie King in June this year. The Lab saw a group of selected artists reinterpret and interrogate the deeper meanings behind context, communities and place—in particular, the site of the Queen Victoria Market. Since June, the artists have further developed their work and will situate it within the hidden crevices and bustling throngs of the marketplace.
Eight commissioned artists realise projects at the Queen Victoria Market, with the works coming to life from 17 to 23 October as part of the Melbourne Festival.
Images (2-5): Field Theory, 9000 minutes 2016; Hiromi Tango. Amygdala (Fireworks), 2016; Steven Rhall, Gesture (70º East) New Day Rising.