When people are still talking about when to go, the 2012 Sculpture by the Sea is ready to wrap up this weekend and will adjourn until next year. As a major open-door public art event featuring more than 100 new works from Australian and international artists, 2012 Sculpture by the Sea is only happening at its famous Bondi home base from October 18th till November 4th. But if you are really keen, you may track up the next leg of the exhibition at Cottesloe Beach of Perth in March 2013 and Aarhus, Denmark in June 2013.
A number of handsome awards have been given out on day one, with the most eye-catching Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize of $70,000 awarded to Peter Lundberg for his work Barrel Roll and the Waverley Council Mayor’s $5,000 prize awarded to the artist collective Cave Urban for their work Mengenang (memory), an installation of 222 bamboo poles as a reflection on the Bali bombings.
Each year, Sculpture by the Sea presents surprises and woes. But when you have half a million people come to see it, the significance of Sculpture by the Sea is often more than art itself. And the best way to experience it, after reading and hearing about it, is to take the walk yourself. It is a 2km coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Park, a very pleasant experience on a sunny day. The only problem is that it is difficult for you to find a parking space on a perfect Sunday afternoon and then to enjoy or photo any one work without anybody in sight. And once again, if you can’t make it this weekend, then see you next year!
“Essentially the exhibition came from my wish to create a major free to the public arts event for Sydney.”
David Handley said, the founding director
The Sculpture by the Sea is about public art. However after 16 years since its inception, one might want to ask if the meaning of public art itself has changed at all and if the model of putting a sculpture or installation in the public space for people to look at is still valid after 16 years since its inception. The problem with it is that the relationship between the artist, artwork and the public is still one-direction linear transmission of ideas. In other words, the viewer is placed at the end of the transmission procession and has little to do with the work except being a passive recipient of the artist’s presumption. This model places artist on the top of the ‘enlightenment’ and the public at the bottom, or someone ‘waiting to be inspired.’ But in reality, we all know it is hardly true. And this year, quite a few people I talked to expressed varied degree of disappointment. Some questioned the depth of conceptual ideas behind the visual.