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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Suzanne Lacy

b. 1945, USA

Suzanne Lacy is widely regarded as a pioneer of socially engaged and public art. Working across installation, video and performance, Lacy confronts issues relating to gender identity, sexual violence, labour, poverty, incarceration, racism, aging and youth culture. Often working in collaboration with members of communities and other artists, Lacy's projects merge art with activism, generating dialogue and providing a conduit for change.

In 2016 Lacy was commissioned by Super Slow Way to create Shapes of Water - Sounds of Hope in Pendle, Lancashire. Engaging deeply with the cultural and spiritual history of the area, Lacy worked in collaboration with residents, community organisations such as Building Bridges Pendle, artist collective In-Situ, activists Paul Hartley and Rauf Bashir, musicologist Ron Pen, and anthropologist Massimiliano Mollona. The project took shape as a series of community meetings and workshops that brought together textile workers from England and Pakistan, former employees at the Brierfield Mill that had closed ten years prior. Shapes of Water - Sounds of Hope used shape-note singing and Sufi chanting as a means to reconnect individuals through the collective production of a performance.

For the 21st Biennale of Sydney at Cockatoo Island Lacy presents The Circle and the Square, 2016, a multipart audio-visual installation that represents the culmination of the two-year Shapes of Water - Sounds of Hope project. The Circle and the Square was made over three days in September 2016, when residents came together in the cavernous empty spaces of the Brierfield Mill. The film captures participatory lessons in shape-note singing, an American musical tradition with origins in Lancashire, that brings people together in a square formation to sing spirituals. The film also features Sufi chanting, where people sit in a circle and chant divine words and phrases to form sound vibrations and rhythms that are thought to have the power to heal and elevate the soul. Also presenting interviews with local residents in the abandoned mill, The Circle and the Square explores the intertwined histories of labour and migration and the social and economic repercussions of the demise of the textile industry.

Tai Spruyt and Stephanie Berlangieri | Biennale of Sydney Exhibition Team | 2018
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