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    Australia’s 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale exhibition travels to Melbourne

    Nicholas Rider

    An installation exploring Australia’s cultural identity through the lens of a humble swimming pool is to be reconstructed at the National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) Ian Potter Centre gallery space in Melbourne.

    Originally presented at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale, The Pool: Architecture, Culture and Identity was curated by Aileen Sage Architects (Isabelle Toland and Amelia Holliday) with Michelle Tabet. The exhibition received more than 100,000 visitors at last year’s Biennale.

    The original installation featured a 60-square-metre pool, with surrounding timber decking and pool lounge chairs. According to the announcement, the installation within the NGV will be 11 metres in length.

    The physical presence of the pool and its grounding in Australiana is made more explicit with supplementary audio excerpts. While visitors circle the pool, they will be subjected to narrations from eight prominent Australian figures, sharing their personal stories via pre-recording tapings. Stories to accompany The Pool come from swimmers Ian Thorpe and Shane Gould; environmentalist Tim Flannery; the fashion designers behind Australian brand Romance Was Born; Christos Tsiolkas, best-selling author of The Slap; Anna Funder, winner of the 2012 Miles Franklin literary prize for All That I Am; Indigenous art curator Hetti Perkins; and musician Paul Kelly.

    “Whether natural or manmade, inland or coastal, pools are undeniably linked to the Australian lifestyle and our national psyche,” says Tony Ellwood, director at NGV.

    “We encourage visitors to dangle their feet in the water or relax poolside as they reflect on the idea of the pool as a place of cultural exchange, socialising, competition and reminiscence.”

    The Pool will be on display at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia from 18 August 2017 to February 2018.

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