abraham cruzvillegas and haegue yang in superposition: equilibrium and engagement
The 21st Biennale of Sydney title borrows the quantum mechanical term ‘superposition’ to link the notions of equilibrium and engagement. In quantum theory, 'superposition' refers to the ability of electrons to occupy multiple states at once, to simultaneously take opposing paths and end up in different places. It is only with the application of measurement that matter is reduced to a single definition.
SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium and Engagement will examine the state of ‘superposition’ by examining how it might operate in the world today. We are surrounded by conflicting ideas across all levels of humanity: different cultures; readings of nature and the universe; political ideologies and systems of government; interpretations of human history, the history of art and definitions of contemporary art.
Cruzvillegas has created a series of site-specific sculptures in the Industrial Precinct at Cockatoo Island, Reconstruction I: The Five Enemies, 2018, and Reconstruction II: The Five Enemies, 2018. Suspended from the rafters of buildings once used to engineer and manufacture ships, Cruzvillegas’ pendulant structures have been improvised from discarded objects and building materials left over from previous events and restoration projects at the site. Inspired by the writings of Chinese philosopher and Taoist sage Chuang Tzu, Cruzvillegas pays close attention to the nature of the discarded objects and materials he collects. Recognising the life and history inherent in each article, Cruzvillegas, through a process of alchemical transmutation, converts them into artworks that retain traces of a genealogy of migration and labour.
Yang presents a multi-part installation combining three bodies of work from different periods of her versatile oeuvre. Three formative video essays called Video Trilogy (Unfolding Places, Restrained Courage, and Squandering Negative Spaces), 2004–06, are embedded in a venetian blind installation with scent emitters and moving lights entitled Lethal Love, 2008. The installation is also accompanied by a series of anthropomorphic sculptures and three ebony-black suspended sculptural creatures that resemble subaquatic or giant arthropods, creating a multisensory and perceptually challenging environment.
Yang’s straw sculptural series, The Intermediates, takes its name from the ubiquity of straw weaving across cultures and the mediating role of straw. Despite the use of industrially manufactured materials, such as synthetic straws, bells, metal rings and turbine vents, the sculptures recall folk handicrafts or ritualistic effigies of ancient civilisations and appear to be part of a remote, yet intimate community.