Image: Robyn Stacey, Tear Drop Garden, Carrick Hill, 2015, type C print, 110 x 146.7cm, ed. of 5 + 2 AP. Courtesy the artist, Stills Gallery, Sydney and Jan Manton Art, Brisbane.

For the 2016 Adelaide Biennial, Art Gallery of South Australia Curator and Assistant Director Lisa Slade takes her obsession with the Wunderkammer to a new level. The Wunderkammer, meaning ‘a room of wonders’, describes the private museums of the past that contained marvellous objects crafted by hand or by nature, which often appeared to be one thing but were in fact another. Titled Magic Object, the 2016 Adelaide Biennial presents work by Australian contemporary artists that bedevils classification – art that arouses our curiosity to speak to contemporary concerns.

The Biennial’s neo-Wunderkammer challenges viewers to consider a return to curiosity in art making in relation to our connection to the natural world.  Much of the work presented in Magic Object possesses a materiality akin to trickery or magic and offers audiences a return to wonder. Artists also indulge interests in the sacred, the talismanic, in cultural rituals and material riddles.

‘I’ve invited artists to consider magic and object-hood and to explore how materials might speak to both artists and audiences,’ said Curator Lisa Slade.  ‘Much of the work presented in Magic Object looks like one thing but is really another, begging the question- are artists the last magicians?’

The 2016 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art will unfold across and beyond Adelaide’s North Terrace to include the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art, JamFactory, the Santos Museum of Economic Botany in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens and Carrick Hill. Broadening its reach across multiple venues, the Adelaide Biennial aims to attract a larger and more diverse audience than ever before.

Spread across these sites, Magic Object will offer a space where free associations and insights are made possible by artists and audiences, where artists can work their magic to enchant the viewer. This enchantment, however, is not without caution – the Wunderkammer offers itself up as a tool with which not only to view the world, but to critique it.

Accompanying the 2016 Adelaide Biennial is a comprehensive program of free artist talks, panels and performances including Wunderkammer: A weekend of ideas, wonder and revelation on the Vernissage weekend.

The Vernissage weekend welcomes viewers to a Wunderkammer of perspectives on material and magical thinking, as artists and thinkers examine the juxtapositions that make the world itself a magic object. The full events program will be available online at

Exhibition Dates: Saturday 27 February – Sunday 15 May 2016
Daily 10am - 5pm at the Art Gallery of South Australia
Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 4pm at Carrick Hill
Hours vary at other venues

Vernissage Weekend: Friday 26 February - Sunday 28 February 2016

Art Gallery of South Australia
Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art
Santos Museum of Economic Botany in the Adelaide Botanic Garden
Carrick Hill
Gallery 2

FREE ADMISSION (House admission applies at Carrick Hill)
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