Magic Mirror
Camera Obscura at Sydney Contemporary

Since its first installment in 2013, Sydney Contemporary has taken place in the historic brick halls of the Carriageworks. Where railroad cars were once produced today ambitious exhibitions, performances, as well as dance and theater events are on the agenda—an ideal ambience for the Australian art fair. This year, a spectacular entrée awaits visitors: The Australian artist Robyn Stacey developed an enterable camera obscura for the entrance area. The work was commissioned by Deutsche Bank, which is Principal Partner of Sydney Contemporary for the first time.

“My aim,” says Robyn Stacey, “is to give visitors to the art fair an opportunity to experience the camera obscura as a theatrical spatial device, allowing them to encounter the site at Carriageworks in a unique and surreal way.” Indeed, the camera obscura has often been called a “magic mirror.” This magic is based on a very simple physical phenomenon: When light shines through a lens or a small hole in a darkened room, inside there is a mirror-inverted and upside-down image—a spectral projection of the exterior space.

Robyn Stacey encountered a camera obscura for the first time at a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Florence. Since then, she has been fascinated by the specific atmosphere of these spaces. In 2013, the photo artist created her first own version. She expanded the concept for the art fair. The cube of her camera obscura is covered with a highly reflective material that mirrors the surroundings. This makes the apparatus virtually disappear. As a result, the artist plays with fair visitors’ perception even before they enter the camera obscura. Robyn Stacey is represented in the Deutsche Bank Collection, among other things with a photograph that shows an upside-down view out of a window of the Deutsche Bank branch in Sydney.

Sydney Contemporary has become Australia’s most important contemporary art fair. In 2015 90 galleries from 14 countries and more than 30,000 visitors came to the spacious halls of the Carriageworks. The Deutsche Bank-sponsored Biennale of Sydney was also a guest here. In Sydney, Deutsche Bank has been a partner of Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) for years. At the MCA, the bank also enabled among other things the founding of the National Center for Creative Learning, which since its opening in 2013 has conveyed the creative potential of contemporary art to nearly 90,000 visitors. The manifold program includes workshops and digital offers for students and teachers, the Genext Festival with concerts and performances for young people, as well as talks with artists and curators geared to adult audiences.   

Sydney Contemporary
Carriageworks, Sydney