Fiona Hall: Wrong Way Time

One of Australia's most significant artists, Fiona Hall's practice spans more than three decades. Hall was commissioned to be the first artist to represent Australia in the 56th Venice Biennale. Hall's exhibition 'Wrong Way Time', curated by Linda Michael, was presented in the new Australian Pavilion building and has been seen by over 250,000 people so far. 'Wrong Way Time' has now made its way to the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), which is the only Australian venue to showcase the exhibition.

The exhibition at the NGA will involve an additional room, which places Hall’s works in a broader historical context. This assortment of elements was curated by Deborah Hart, NGA Senior Curator, Australian Paintings and Sculpture post-1920. Hart explains that the additional works from the NGA collection will provide a different viewer experience to the Venice exhibition, “…the story of this great Australian artist will be told in the spirit of ‘Wrong Way Time’ from her works of last year through to those of her early career.”

The exhibition investigates global politics, world finances and the environment. Other areas of interest for Hall include post-colonial issues, the relationship between culture and nature and the human condition. Hart describes ‘Wrong Way Time’ as a “very dense exhibition” as it involves works made from an assortment of media including bread, banknotes, cork, aluminium and cuckoo clocks. These curious configurations speak deeply of Hall’s practice, which continues to transcend fluidly without restriction.

Hart says that an instrumental aim is to “…convey the complexity of Hall’s intricate, multilayered art in ways that are accessible to a broad audience. A lot of thought has gone into the display and the relationships between works from different timeframes.” Every object in the survey is an extension of Hall’s creativity, the pieces emulate the workings of her imagination.

Photographs produced in the 1970s and 1980s will feature in the exhibition together with other highlights including the Leaf litter installation (1999-2003) and the ‘Paradisus Terrestris’ series (1989-90). Hall is known for her detailed aluminum tins which have been taken from their original form and transfigured into natural looking arrangements. As seen in Holdfast (Macrocystis angustifolia; giant kelp) (2007), part of the object emulates the natural and jagged textures of foliage, seen branching outwards, growing from the unraveling tin can. The text imprinted on the tin is a jarring reminder of the artificiality of the sculpture. There are also several recent works on loan from the artist that were shown in dOCUMENTA 13 (2012), Kassel, Germany. These relate to endangered birds and animals from around the world. Hall reflects on the troubled times that we are facing and this concern is ingrained in many of the pieces.

‘Wrong Way Time’ provides a detailed look into Hall’s influential role as an artist. Her creations are designed not to tell viewers what to think, rather they pose ideas surrounding the past, present and future. Hart says, “Fiona Hall has an amazing mind. She is also a great maker of objects. I believe viewers will be amazed at the range of works, the ingenuity of their making across a wide range of materials and the ideas they encompass.”

National Gallery of Australia
22 April to 10 July, 2016