Biennial Foundation Review

This thoughtful review has been published on the Biennial Foundation website, briefly discussing the Plastic-free Biennale project among other contributions to NIRIN. Thanks to author Michaela Bear.

Michaela writes:

Among the 36 artists and projects displayed on the industrial Island is a space dedicated to resources on the Plastic-Free Biennale, created by socially-engaged artists Lucas Ihlein and Kim Williams. Striving to holistically embody NIRIN’s focus on environmental care, Biennale staff asked the pair to improve sustainable practices on an organizational level by minimizing use of plastic. The project, composed of implemented strategies and events, highlights the need to shift expectations of what Biennales and museums should look like if they are to be environmentally responsible, including rethinking use of exhibition staples such as vinyl and foam core – NIRIN instead features wall text hung from clipboards and nails. It is more important than ever to look after each other and our planet, especially in light of recent Australian bushfires and today’s heightened global unrest. NIRIN poignantly reminds us of art’s power to challenge the ‘normal’ and make us rethink, acknowledge, take action, and come together.

Michaela mentions the use of wall text using clipboards rather than foamcore and vinyl adhesive plastic, which are standard “professional” museum signage materials. Indeed, here is Sam Jones from the Biennale, showing off the clipboard system (as featured on the @plasticfreebiennale instagram feed):

What’s good about this system is that the clipboards themselves can be reused after the exhibition. By contrast, foamcore signs and adhesive vinyls would go straight into the bin after the show.

Even more interesting is that if there is the need to change some of the details on the signage, the clipboard system just involves substituting in a new sheet of A4 paper from a laser printer (as opposed to junking the entire foamcore/vinyl sign and starting from scratch). This is especially useful for NIRIN, where the information about projects is constantly evolving as the artists’ projects are so dynamic.


PS – back in 2010, Lucas did a project called Environmental Audit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. In this blog post, you can see a story about the use of foamcore for wall labels, and the waste it creates!

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