The Triennial was launched in 2017, with its debut edition attracted 1.25 million visitors. The 2020 iteration, which runs from 19 December 2020 to 18 April 2021, is organised around four themes: Illumination, Reflection, Conservation, and Speculation.
Ewan McEoin, the museum's Hugh Williamson senior curator of contemporary design and architecture, said: “The four thematic pillars of the Triennial are entangled, in a porous set of discourses that flow between and across the works.”
“Firstly, Reflection looks at self, representation of self, race, gender, and reflects on who we are today – in all our ugliness and beauty – whether as individuals, communities and cultures. Projects look at narcissism, racism, vanity and the celebration of human culture.
“Illumination shines a light on sometimes positive and sometimes negative histories that are embedded within our collection. Of course, a collection of this kind, grounded in Western art and philosophy, allows us to celebrate enlightenment thinking and the beauty of art – but also to grapple with the dominant Western view of the time – that European men sat at the apex of a natural order, in a role of dominion. It sets the scene for Conservation projects that look at the state of the planet, and the primacy of our relationships with and within nature.
“Finally, in Speculation we consider what lies ahead. Considering who we are and what we believe, and our entanglement with and violence towards the natural world – what about the future? These projects reveal our own extinction, post-humanism, or a convergence of technology and biology. While others reveal that we might rediscover our true place and unlock the potential wrapped within the intersecting folds of ancient knowledge, science and technology.”
The exhibition will feature works from practitioners around the world, with design and architecture heavily represented through practitioners such as Faye Toogood, Kengo Kuma, Patricia Urquiola, Porky Hefer, Talin Hazbar and Liam Young.
Kuma is to collaborate with Melbourne artist Geoffrey Nees to develop a pavilion built from timber from trees that died during the Millennium Drought at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens.
Toogood will curate a number of gallery spaces within NGV, incorporating newly commissioned furniture, lighting, scenography, sculpture and large-scale tapestries.
Bess will show Plastocene – Marine Mutants From a Disposable World, a collection of large-scale seating environments that draw attention to ocean pollution by imagining sea creatures evolved from plastic bags, straws, and coffee cups. The series includes Buttpuss, an octopus constructed from hand-felted cigarette butts.
Adam Nathaniel Furman has collaborated with Sibling Architecture to transform NGV’s Gallery Kitchen café into a space that references the design vocabulary of boudoirs, salons and night clubs. It is intended as environment that may be welcoming to those who do not feel comfortable or safe in other areas of the public realm.
Patricia Urquiola is to present her first major installation in Australia, using upcycled textile furnishings in the form of enormous socks that will be suspended from the ceiling of NGV's Great Hall.
Tony Ellwood, NGV's director, said: “The NGV Triennial offers visitors a significant opportunity to explore how we use art to express ourselves, communicate and consider the world as it is, while also asking how we would like it to be. Artists, designers and architects of the twenty-first century perform a vital role in giving form to our collective imagination, fears and aspirations. We are all living in a world in flux: there has never been a more important moment to celebrate human capability than now.”
Image Credit Porky Hefer (designer); Southern Guild, Cape Town (fabricator); Buttpus designed 2019, manufactured 2020; felted karakul wool, industrial felt, canvas, leather, sheepskin, salvaged hand-tufted wool carpet, recycled PEP stuffing, foam, steel 1512.0 x 1512.0 x 328.0 cm; Frame manufacturer: Streetwires; Felting: Ronel Jordaan Textiles Sewer & pattern maker: M Clothing Assembly: Wolf & Maiden Creative Studio; Karakul wool sponsored by Jonay Wool Carding; Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Purchased with funds donated by Barry Janes and Paul Cross, Neville and Diana Bertalli, 2020.