In 1969 artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude came to Sydney and wrapped the rocky coastline at Little Bay, 2.5 kilometres of coast and cliffs up to 26 metres high. It was the largest single artwork that had ever been made and one of the first major land art projects anywhere in the world. It was also the first of a series of projects realised by art patron John Kaldor.
Forty years later the AGNSW is celebrating four decades of Kaldor Public Art Projects in an exhibition containing archival material, photographs and unique television footage. These ambitious projects include works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Gilbert & George, Jeff Koons and Nam June Paik.
To coincide with this exhibition, Kaldor has invited Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi to complete another ambitious project which transforms the front of the AGNSW.
The artist has transformed the Gallery’s two grand equestrian sculptures by Gilbert Bayes, The offerings of peace and The offerings of war, enclosing them in playful constructions that appear like domestic living spaces. Visitors can walk inside to experience the surreal new spaces of Nishi’s War and peace and in between.
The two outdoor bronze monuments are enclosed by a structure cladded with scaffolding and tarpaulin which give the appearance of renovation works taking place. Initial appearances suggest a work-in-progress, however the visitor is invited to enter the work and experience an unusual sight. The first room, laid out as a domestic living room, contains a coffee table through which the upper body of the bronze sculpture is exposed. The ordinary and familiar context is unexpectedly disrupted.
In the second room, laid out as a domestic bedroom, the viewer encounters the bronze sculpture of a man on horseback. This large-scale monument appears trampling the bed sheets, inches away from the chandelier and towering above the furniture. Here, the public are given the opportunity to gaze on the grandiose at a level which gives these existing monuments a renewed interest. The artist draws the viewer into an environment and confronts them with an unexpected surprise!