Quietly installed in the old North Sydney Telephone Exchange – now a newly developed commercial building – in Mount Street, North Sydney, is a large commission, launched in 2010. Hany Armanious (Australia’s artist at this year’s 54th Venice Biennale) and Mary Teague have produced a work that is at once playful and serious, and refers to the history of the site it occupies.
Two massive polystyrene look-a-like cups (actually moulded in polyester resin) rest on old school desks; as with many of Armanious’ works, materials are not as they appear. The cups are connected by clusters of telephone cabling gathered from the old site. It’s a work that plays with so-called high and low art – old technology in a technologically advanced building. It invokes the past, inviting us to recall backyard childhood games and to think about technology and change. The application of these ideas is complemented by the materials themselves. In re-creating art as a game from childhood and placing it in a contemporary setting, it personalises our relationship to it.
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