Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work (Derrigimlagh) 2020 by John Gerrard to feature as part of the Biennale of Sydney

9 March 2022

The acclaimed Irish artwork, responding to escalating climate crisis, features at largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia from 12 March – 13 June 2022.

Main Image by Wolter Peeters

Galway International Arts Festival is delighted to announce that Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work, its commission for Galway’s European Capital of Culture 2020 which premiered at Derrigimlagh Bog in Connemara as part of GIAF 2021, will feature as part of the prestigious Biennale of Sydney from 12 March - 13 June 2022.

The Pavilion, by leading Irish artist John Gerrard, will be installed at Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney’s newest Harbour foreshore park, one of the city’s oldest industrial sites which was recently transformed into a spectacular, six-hectare park with stunning views of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The first part of this mesmerizing work, Mirror Pavilion, Corn Work, was experienced by over 120,000 people in 2020 at the Claddagh in Galway City and Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work (Derrigimlagh) 2020 captivated festival goers in Autumn 2021 on the bog at Derrigimlagh.

Mirror Pavilion at Sydney Biennale
Mirror Pavilion, Leaf Work presented at Barangaroo Reserve for the Biennale of Sydney in Australia

Now it will be presented for the first time in Australia, as part of the 23rd Biennale of Sydney, titled rīvus, meaning ‘stream’ in Latin, which will feature new work and commissions responding to water ecology and relationships with the natural world.

The Pavilion is a beautiful and striking large-scale structure (7m x 7m), with three sides and the roof clad in a highly reflective mirror and the fourth wall a high–resolution LED wall. The artwork is powered by sustainable energy sources.

Mirror Pavilion by John Gerrard is a response to the escalating climate crisis and fearlessly pushes the boundaries of digital art using simulation. Gerrard utilises digital technology, usually employed by the commercial gaming industry, to create virtual worlds that simulate extremely detailed and authentic landscapes. The characters and landscapes we see on the LED screen may look like video or film but they are not; they hover in what the artist describes as the ‘slippery space’ between the real and the unreal. Gerrard’s astonishingly real virtual worlds are meticulously constructed by digital means by the artist, a team of modellers, and programmers.

John Gerrard is considered a pioneer of simulation within contemporary art. His work features in the collections of MoMA New York, Tate London, San Francisco MoMA, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Irish Museum of Modern Art among others.

The Biennale of Sydney will include over 330 artworks by 89 participants and 400 events as part of the 2022 edition, and will be open to the public from 12 March to 13 June 2022.

As well as Mirror Pavilion Leaf Work, audiences will experience other large-scale immersive installations, site specific projects and living works by international participants including Kiki Smith, Marguerite Humeau, Sheroanawe Hakihiiwe, Jumana Emil Abboud and Ackroyd & Harvey alongside Australian participants such as Badger Bates, Clare Milledge, Julie Gough and D Harding. The list of participants extends beyond the realm of the visual arts and includes bodies of water and their custodians around the world, including Australia, Bangladesh and Ecuador.

The 2022 edition has been developed and realised by a Curatorium comprised of Artistic Director and Colombian curator José Roca and co-curators Paschal Daantos Berry, Anna Davis, Hannah Donnelly and Talia Linz.

The largest contemporary art event of its kind in Australia, the Biennale of Sydney will be open free to the public from 12 March to 13 June 2022 at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Barangaroo including The Cutaway, Circular Quay, Information + Cultural Exchange, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, National Art School in partnership with Artspace, The Rocks and Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay Arts Precinct.

Galway International Arts Festival in association with its education partner NUI Galway will shortly be releasing a new podcast documenting the making and staging of Mirror Pavilion, Corn Work and Leaf Work, during the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

It charts the creation of the virtual worlds at the centre of these two unique artworks in the artist’s studio in Vienna, the challenge of getting the bespoke manufactured LED screen from China as the Government there reported treating dozens of cases of an unknown virus emanating from Wuhan, the delays and obstacles the team faced as the pandemic spread across the globe and Ireland shut down through to its ultimate construction and presentation in Galway City in 2020 and Connemara in 2021 as part of rescheduled and reimaged Galway International Arts Festivals.

Mirrored panels of Mirror Pavilion reflect the sky in Sydney, Australia
John Gerrard's Mirror Pavilion blends in with the Sydney sky ahead of its presentation at the Biennale of Sydney

Mirror Pavilion by John Gerrard was commissioned by Galway International Arts Festival for Galway 2020, European Capital of Culture. GIAf is grateful to Culture Ireland for its support of Mirror Pavilion in Sydney.

Galway International Arts Festival would like to acknowledge the support of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture for funding Mirror Pavilion in partnership with Galway city and county local authorities, and for the additional support provided by Festival Energy Partner Flogas, and the support of Aerogen and Blue Sky Ireland.

Founded in 1978, Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF) is a major cultural organisation, which produces one of Europe’s leading international arts festivals; develops and produces new work that tours nationally and internationally; and presents a major discussion platform, First Thought Talks.

The Festival will this year return to its traditional place in the calendar, in July (11-24), with a full multidisciplinary line-up including theatre, opera, visual arts, live music, street and talks. In 2019, GIAF had an attendance of over 260,000, while smaller events were held during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The Festival has a rich tradition of producing award-winning and engaging work, which premieres at the Festival and goes on to tour nationally and internationally. In recent years, GIAF has toured to South Korea, London, New York, Edinburgh, Chicago, Adelaide, Sydney, Hong Kong and Washington. A number of major new Irish theatre productions and visual art commissions, including most recently John Gerrard’s stunning Mirror Pavilion have received their world premieres at the Festival.

GIAF’s Chief Executive is John Crumlish, and its Artistic Director is Paul Fahy.

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Galway International Arts Festival acknowledges the support of its principal funding agencies, The Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland, Galway City Council, its Education Partner NUI Galway, its Energy Partner Flogas, and Drinks Partner Heineken®.

The Biennale of Sydney is a leading international contemporary art event. It plays an indispensable role in Australia’s engagement with the world, and a meaningful role in the life of the nation. For almost 50 years, the Biennale has been a unifying force in the Australian arts sector, embedding boldly creative art exhibitions and experiences in the everyday life of Sydney and putting the artistic excellence of Australia front and centre on the world stage. The Biennale of Sydney has commissioned and presented exceptional works of art by more than 1900 national and international artists from more than 130 countries. The Biennale of Sydney is committed to free access for all. biennaleofsydney.art