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The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire

The Brisbane-exclusive exhibition features interactive experiences — and the world's oldest motorbike.
By Sarah Ward
November 27, 2020
By Sarah Ward
November 27, 2020

In recent years, Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art has played host to an array of weird and wonderful exhibits. The Hulk's giant bed, a real-life snowman and Patricia Piccinini's otherworldly field of not-quite-flowers have all graced the South Brisbane site's halls and walls, as have David Lynch's inimitable art and a recreation of a real-life riverbed. But between Saturday, November 28, 2020–Monday, April 26, 2021, the cultural institution is heading in a completely different direction. A gallery-wide celebration of motorcycles mightn't be the kind of thing you'd generally expect to find at GOMA; however, that's exactly what'll be on display.

Called The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire, the Queensland-exclusive showcase explores the two-wheeled vehicle's enduring appeal — from the way it looks and how it has evolved over the years, to the way it's portrayed in popular culture and how it makes people feel. Obviously, the exhibition does so by displaying plenty of motorbikes. Sourced from public and private collections from around the world, more than 100 are riding into GOMA — with some dating back more than 150 years.

That'd be the Perreaux steam-powered velocipede from 1871, which is the oldest-known motorbike on the planet. It's joined by a selection of the first Aussie built and designed motorcycles, including one made in Brisbane in 1906; record-breaking bikes, such as the land speed record-breaking 1951 Vincent Black Lightning; and a lineup of super-modern motorcycles that represent the vehicle's future.

The Motorcycle - Design, Art, Desire; VIP Preview; GOMA Level 1

Honing in on the motorcycle's importance not just as a mode of transport, but as an ever-evolving machine, The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire also features interactive experiences — so prepare to virtually hop on a 50s Vespa and go riding in real-time through a themed landscape, or build and customise your own bike.

And, because there are quite a few motorbike-related movies to choose from, GOMA's Australian Cinematheque is getting into the same gear so you can revved up while watching a film. In March, there's an Up Late program of after-hours parties, too.

Installation view The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire 28 November 20 – 26 April 21 Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane Photograph: Chloë Callistemon, QAGOMA


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