See the Asia Pacific Triennial

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Courtesy OF Celluloid Dreams

A still from Kitano's Kantoku: Banzai!

Art lovers visiting the designer washrooms at Brisbane's stunning Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) over the next few months may wonder what Taiwan artist Charwei Tsai's video projection Hand Washing Project 1 signifies. It's one of over 500 recent and commissioned works (313 pieces of art, and 261 feature-length and short films) in the 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT6) at the twin sites of the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) and GoMA. Charwei Tsai will project images onto the washbasins of, well, people washing their hands. Go figure.

Beyond the washroom, works by more than 100 artists and filmmakers from 25 countries will sprawl across QAG and GoMA from Dec. 5 to Apr. 5. Admission is free, and there's a plethora of satellite events, including a Kids APT, concerts, lectures and a cinema program featuring directors Ang Lee (Taiwan), Rithy Panh (Cambodia/France) and Takeshi Kitano (Japan).

QAG director Tony Ellwood says the triennial specializes in breaking new ground, with APT6 presenting work "from countries that have never before been represented." These include Cambodia, Turkey, Burma and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.). Representatives of the latter have been "in conversation" with APT6 lead curator Suhanya Raffel via an intermediary — the Beijing-based British filmmaker Nicholas Bonner. His connections with the Pyongyang-based Mansudae Art Studio helped secure 70 works: paintings, prints and mosaics influenced by the socialist-realist styles of Russia and China. Raffel says their inclusion recognizes "different, parallel art histories that have developed in the region in local specific ways."

Iran is another newcomer to APT6, represented by veteran artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian and Tehran-based Farhad Moshiri, whose work Mobile Talker, in which an image of a young woman talking on the phone is picked out with cake decorations, seems to offer a wry comment on the country's modern mores. Rather more confronting is Line of Control, a huge sculpture of metal utensils forming the shape of a mushroom cloud, by Indian artist Subodh Gupta. Something to ponder over the washbasin, perhaps. See for more.

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