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The discursive exhibition includes works by over 100 artists and designers, including Jeff Koons, Misaki Kawai, and Diamond Stingily.

NGV Triennial Showing Everything From ‘Venus’ to ‘Buttpus’

Porky Hefer, Buttpus (2020). Felted karakul wool, industrial felt, canvas, leather, sheepskin, salvaged hand-tufted wool carpet, recycled PEP stuffing, foam, and steel. 15.1 x 15.1 x 3.3m. Courtesy Porky Hefer and Southern Guild.

The NGV Triennial will introduce works under no fewer than four themes when it opens at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Melbourne, on 19 December.

Eighty-six projects have been loosely connected through the ideas of Illumination, Reflection, Conservation, and Speculation, making space for everything from Jeff Koons' ornament-like beauty Venus (2016–2020) to South African designer Porky Hefer's Buttpus (2020), a 15-metre-long sea monster crafted from what look like cigarette butts (actually, wool).

Jeff Koons, Venus (render) (2016–2020). Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent colour coating. 254.0 x 144.5 x 158.4 cm.

Jeff Koons, Venus (render) (2016–2020). Mirror-polished stainless steel with transparent colour coating. 254.0 x 144.5 x 158.4 cm. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

One of the highlights is French artist JR's stained-glass window portraits of people he visited in the Sunraysia region of Victoria and New South Wales. The works were created to bring attention to the ecological decline of the Darling River.

Another highlight is American artist Diamond Stingily's installation In the middle but in the corner of 176th place (2019), whose trophies bear melancholy inscriptions such as 'Through all the madness this is all you gone get' and 'We didn't have this sport when I was growing up'.

Among the designers, Canadian fashion house Fecal Matter is presenting their Skin heel boots (2020), which have silicone toes and fleshy horns sprouting from the heel and lower calf, testament to their interest in non-surgical body modification.

Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola's Recycled Woollen Island (2020), on the other foot, comprises couches resembling stuffed, oversized socks that will be displayed in the gallery's Great Hall. The work was inspired by visitors' habit of removing their shoes to lie down and gaze up at the hall's coloured glass ceiling, which was created by Australian artist Leonard French from 1963 to 1967.

Diamond Stingily, In the middle but in the corner of 176th place (2019). 723 trophies, metal shelves (dimensions variable). Installation view.

Diamond Stingily, In the middle but in the corner of 176th place (2019). 723 trophies, metal shelves (dimensions variable). Installation view. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Margaritas Platis.

There were 56 active cases of Covid-19 in Australia at time of reporting according to the Australian Government's Department of Health. Measures in place to protect visitors to the exhibition include ticketed session times to limit visitor numbers, enhanced cleaning, acrylic screens at service desks, and floor markers encouraging people to stay 1.5 metres apart.

Works referencing the personal protective equipment ubiquitous since the outbreak of Covid-19 include British artist Alice Potts' bioplastic face shields and Hong Kong artist Scotty So's exquisite ceramic masks.

'We are all living in a world in flux: there has never been a more important moment to celebrate human capability than now,' said Tony Ellwood, director of NGV.

Held in 2017, the inaugural NGV Triennial received 1.23 million visitors, making it the gallery's most-visited exhibition thus far.

This year's edition will run until 18 April 2021. —[O]

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