15th Biennale of Sydney: Zones of Contact

8 June – 27 August 2006

Exhibiting artists at Gallery 4A at the Asia-Australia Arts Centre [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art]: Stella Brennan (NZL), Chen Chieh-jen (TWN) and Kai Syng Tan (SGP)

Expansive in both curatorial ambition and footprint, Zones of Contact expanded beyond its principal, inner-city venues to other sites, including art centres in south-west Sydney suburbs of Blacktown and Campbelltown, in a desire to reach broader audiences. The scale of the undertaking was equalled by Merewether’s inclusive research process, which included visits to many countries in the two years prior to the 2006 Biennale.

Thematically, the exhibition dealt broadly with events, ideas and concerns that shape our lives, as well as our sense of past and future. It explored zones in which people live and move: cities and settlements, the merging and separation of public areas and private territories, and places where people encounter one another. In an attempt to map the world through its artists, Merewether gathered work about landscape and territory, notions of home and homeland, and the impact of cross-cultural encounter.

Sub-themes of colonialism, experiences of war and conflict, displacement, migration and mobility in the exhibition played out against experiences of living in an increasingly cosmopolitan, globalised world.

Stella Brennan (b. 1974, Auckland, New Zealand) is an Auckland-based artist, writer and curator. She has a Masters degree in Fine Arts from Auckland University. In 2003 she was the Waikato University’s inaugural Digital Artist in Residence. She is also the founder of Aotearoa Digital Arts, New Zealand’s only discussion list dedicated to New Media Art.

Chen Chieh-Jen (b. 1960, Taoyuan, Taiwan) is a Taipei-based artist and filmmaker.

Tan Kai Syng (b. 1975, Singapore) is a performance and installation artist. Her video recordings of folk recalling events highlight the difference in histories, suggesting a questioning of historical truth. Challenging hegemonic narrative structures in oral histories, Syng attempts to reconstruct history through collective subjective memory.