Bundanon Announces New Exhibition Season, the Polyphonic Sea

Bundanon has announced its major new exhibition season, The Polyphonic Sea, opening on 8 July 2023

The Polyphonic Sea explores the wealth of languages around us, from speech and writing, gesture, and music, to the flow of the natural environment. Curated by Sophie O’Brien, it showcases recent and new works by twelve leading artists from Aotearoa New Zealand: Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, Andrew Beck, Ruth Buchanan, The Estate of L. Budd, Sione Faletau, Samuel Holloway et al., Sarah Hudson, Sonya Lacey, Nova Paul, Sriwhana Spong, and Shannon Te Ao

Arising from Ancient Greek, the word polyphony refers to ‘many voices’; specifically, however, it refers to multiple melodies, all simultaneously maintaining their independence. The Polyphonic Sea prioritises sound, music and languages of many kinds (whether written or spoken, read by the eyes or experienced through the body). 

The exhibition will be launched on Saturday 8 July with a celebration of live performance, staged throughout the Art Museum. Created by artist Antonia Barnett-McIntosh, this opening live program brings together traditional instruments (flute, viola, guitar) and experimental forms (spoken word and field recordings). 

Following the opening performances, the exhibition itself will transform into a kind of musical score. A choreography of both sound and silence will lead audiences through the gallery spaces as individual works are activated within the Art Museum. Shannon Te Ao’s large-scale video, la rā, ia rā (rere runga, rere raro) Everyday (I fly high, I fly low), presents an elegiac meeting of choreography and song (waiata). Sriwhana Spong’s Instrument H (Monster Chicken) is a musical instrument but also a sculpture, played daily in the museum.

Sarah Hudson’s wrapped space presents her research into the language of ochre and the female body in traditional Māori culture, accompanied by the sounds of nature in Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Pūkeko. Sonya Lacey’s infrared filming of chlorophyll looks to the life of plants, employing a technique that NASA uses to chart the greenness, and thereby health, of the planet Earth. 

Spanning a range of artforms (including photography, design, documentary filmmaking, choreography, music composition and field recordings, weaving, painting and sculpture), each artist presents work that draws our attention to the languages we often overlook, celebrating a world of non-verbal cues rich with meaning. The Polyphonic Sea invites visitors to Bundanon to consider the transformational power of listening. 

“This new exhibition season speaks to Arthur Boyd’s vision for Bundanon, to support artists across disciplines in the creation of new works through the artistic residencies program, live performance and presentation onsite,” said Bundanon CEO, Rachel Kent.

Launched in 2022, the Art Museum, Bridge and wider infrastructure amplify this vision through new creative opportunities for artists and the engagement of diverse audiences.

With its focus on languages, both spoken and experienced through nature, The Polyphonic Sea builds connections between local and international practices, First Nations artists in Aotearoa New Zealand and south coast custodians.

Through my research into the work of artists living and working in Aotearoa New Zealand, I found a resonance with our ambitions at Bundanon: that is, to hold space for numerous creative and cultural practices, often in dialogue with the natural environment,” said Sophie O’Brien, Head of Curatorial & Learning. “These artists from Aotearoa respond to the multiplicity of languages around them in numerous ways, drawing on Māori and Pakeha heritage as well as the universal languages of sound and gesture. Beyond the exhibition itself, Bundanon is collaborating in new ways with First Nations custodians on a language forum, part of a bigger partnership, which visitors can experience as a part of the public programs”. 

A public program of artist and curatorial talks, family friendly workshops and performances will run alongside the exhibition season.


More information: bundanon.com.au

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