Floating Mirrored Spheres and Eerie Volcanic Mounds Will Fill GOMA for Its Big Summer 'Air' Exhibition 

Back in 2019, Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art set up a huge indoor riverbed for its 'Water' exhibition — and now it's contemplating air instead.
Sarah Ward
Published on November 04, 2022

There's a reason that galleries favourite white walls and cavernous halls: they're a canvas to fill with exhibition after exhibition, and with the glorious art that comes with them. At Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art, that setup has seen its central atrium play host to everything from Yayoi Kusama's kaleidoscopic finest, Chiharu Shiota's red wool webs and Patricia Piccinini's inflatable pieces through to a black cube playing David Lynch clips and an ode to Marvel — and, next, 13 floating mirrored spheres.

Those reflective orbs are part of GOMA's next must-see showcase, and the next reason for art fans both in Brisbane and further afield to make a date with the South Bank gallery. Across summer 2022–23 and into autumn, running from Saturday, November 26, 2022–Sunday, April 23, 2023, the venue will play host to Air, which ruminates on that very topic.

Back in 2019–20, during the same time slot, GOMA pondered water in an exhibition called, yes, Water. Consider this the sequel. GOMA isn't merely filling its spaces with the life-sustaining substance — it already has, obviously — but is concerned with pondering air's cultural, ecological and political dimensions.

Gallery of Modern Art, Exterior, South & East face, James Turrell artwork

Those aforementioned globes are part of newly commissioned showcase piece Drift: A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms, which hails from Argentinian-born, Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno. The 13 spheres will be suspended in the atrium, at different heights, to get audiences contemplating the poetry if air and its imaginative side. Looking up at them, you'll see yourself looking back — and you'll also witness them move gently, like they're breathing.

Where Water set up a huge indoor riverbed, Air will feature volcanic mounds and clouds of pigmented dust instead, thanks to fellow highlight Origins I–III by Dora Budor. Also set to be a standout: Chalk Fall from UK artist and filmmaker Tacita Dean, with the multi-panel drawing resembling England's Cliffs of Dover — but in chalk.

Mona Hatoum / Lebanon / United Kingdom b.1952 Hot Spot III 2009 / Stainless steel and neon tube /234 x 223 x 223cm / Installation at Fondazione Querini Stampalia Onlus, Venice /© Mona Hatoum / Courtesy: Fondazione Querini Stampalia Onlus, Venice / Photograph: Agostino Osio.

Or, there's also Hot Spot, a neon-lit sculpture by Mona Hatoum that's about the planet's burning political turmoil, but also fits the globe's environmental situation. Bird-like sculptures will feature via Jonathan Jones's untitled (giran), which is accompanied by a soundscape created with Dr Uncle Stan Grant Sr AM — and black moth and butterfly silhouettes are a focus of Carlos Amorales' Black Cloud.

Fancy seeing air? Anthony McCall's Crossing uses shafts of light and smoke haze to allow that to happen. Similarly — but in a completely different way — Rachel Mounsey's photography series displays the perilous red skies of Mallacoota's horrific 2019 bushfires.

Rachel Mounsey / Australia b.1975 /Mallacoota fires in the sky 8 (from 'Mallacoota fires in the sky' series) 2020 / Inkjet print on Canson Platine Fibre Rag paper / 50 x 75cm / Purchased 2022. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Rachel Mounsey.

Air will also see plant-filled twin concrete towers pop up via new commission Portal from Jamie North, plus a cloud of air created from a collage of images in Jemima Wyman's Plume 20 — with everything in the exhibition fitting into chapters called Atmosphere, Shared, Burn, Invisible and Change.

Clearly, it's a hefty showcase, complete with major works by more than 30 Australian and international artists. Air also comes with a film program in the Australian Cinémathèque, plus an opening weekend filled with artist talks, discussions, pop-up performances and drop-in workshops.

Jemima Wyman / Pairrebeener people / Australia b.1977 / Plume 20 2022 / Handcut digital photos / 450 x 530cm / Courtesy: Jemima Wyman, Milani Gallery, Brisbane, and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney / In memory of Mark Webb (1957–2022) For the complete title of this artwork please visit: https://qago.ma/plume20 / © Jemima Wyman / Photograph: Ed Mumford.

"At this moment in history, as global temperatures rise, we are sensitive to air as never before: alert to airborne threats and aware of our reliance on this precious mix of gases," said Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, QAGOMA's Curatorial Manager of International Art.

"Air asks us to consider how we share oxygen with all other life, reflect on what it means to breathe freely and examine air as a metaphor for change," she continued.

Air kicks off what's set to be a huge new year for GOMA, complete with a blockbuster fairy tales exhibition — and a twisted woodland with it — in the summer 2023–24 slot.

Yhonnie Scarce / Kokatha and Nukunu peoples / Australia b.1973 / Cloud Chamber 2020 (installation view, 'Looking Glass: Judy Watson and Yhonnie Scarce', TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Vic. 2020) / Collection: TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria/ © Yhonnie Scarce / Image courtesy: Yhonnie Scarce and THIS IS NO FANTASY, Melbourne / Photograph: Andrew Curtis.

Air displays at Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art from Saturday, November 26, 2022–Sunday, April 23, 2023. For more information and tickets, head to the GOMA website.

Top image: Tomás Saraceno / Aerocene 2 and Aerocene 1.2 2016 (installation view, '163,000 Light Years', Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey / ©Tomás Saraceno / Photograph: Studio Tomás Saraceno.

Published on November 04, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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