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Judy Millar’s Virtual Venice Biennale Experience: A Transformative Journey in Art

In 2009, New Zealand artist Judy Millar had a career-defining moment when she represented her country at the 53rd Venice Biennale with her exhibition “Giraffe-Bottle-Gun”. This prestigious event not only showcased Millar’s unique artistic vision but also marked a significant turning point in her artistic journey.

Millar’s exhibition at the Venice Biennale was a bold and immersive experience. She filled the New Zealand Pavilion with large-scale digitally printed and painted canvases that looped and undulated through the architectural spaces. These works, which started as small paintings and were then enlarged to ten times their original size, created an enveloping spectacle that engaged directly with the architecture.

The artist’s approach to the Biennale was both innovative and challenging. By playing with scale and the compression of time and space, Millar created an environment that invited viewers to reconsider their relationship with art and space. Her gestural, abstract style, reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism, took on new dimensions when blown up to such massive proportions.

Reflecting on her Biennale experience, Millar described it as “a truly great and lucky experience” that gave her “an enormous amount of confidence”. The opportunity to work with a great team and see her work in a new context opened up new horizons for her artistic practice. As she put it, “It was really like the horizon opening up for me”.

The impact of the Venice Biennale on Millar’s career was significant. It raised her international profile and contributed to her recognition as one of New Zealand’s most internationally acclaimed artists. More importantly, it allowed her to see “the potential to take my work into previously unseen places”.

Since the Biennale, Millar has continued to push boundaries in her work. Her recent exhibition at the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) in Brisbane, for example, featured twenty-metre long ribbons covered in enlarged half-tone dots, creating a visually and physically immersive experience.

Millar’s Venice Biennale experience serves as a testament to the transformative power of international art events. It not only provided a platform for her work but also challenged her to think bigger and bolder. For artists and art enthusiasts alike, Millar’s journey offers inspiration and a glimpse into the potential of art to transcend boundaries and open new horizons.

As we look back on this pivotal moment in Judy Millar’s career, we’re reminded of the ongoing dialogue between artists, their work, and the global stage. The Venice Biennale continues to be a crucible for artistic innovation and a launchpad for artists to reach new heights in their practice.

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