‘Sugar Spin: you, me, art and everything’ marks ten years of GOMA, inviting us into a playful space of excess, colour and abundance. Drawing together more than 250 works, the exhibition celebrates GOMA and the creative depth and diversity of the Collection.
As ‘Sugar Spin’ draws to a close on Monday 17 April, we start our exhibition focus on ‘Sweetmelt’ and the complex connections between humanity and the natural world that are celebrated and reconceived in the exhibition chapters. Following profiles will feature ‘Blackwater’, ‘Soaring’, ‘Treasure’ and end with the ‘Cosmos’ all of which establishe a dramatic itinerary through GOMA’s unique spaces, reflecting the urgent challenges of our day, as well as the beauty of the world we live in.
Spin me around
until I am dizzy
until what I know
is a blur
Until the world comes back into focus
with a different shape
Spin me stories
as a spider would a web
Spin me a sugar high
A feast of everything
I ever wanted
‘Sugar Spin’ brings together the work of remarkable Australian artists with that of their global peers in celebration of the creative depth and diversity of the Gallery’s Collection. This exhibition plays with ideas of abundance, dizziness and disorientation in five contrasting chapters, moving from light to dark, and from the monumental to the minute. It offers a series of paths to explore, traversing heady colour, darker anxieties, soaring rhythms and precious treasures, before opening to encompass the wider cosmos. The artworks in ‘Sugar Spin’ take our breath away, swiftly at times, filling us with wonder. At other points they unfold more slowly, and reflect our own fears and uncertainties. The ancient creation narratives of this land are renewed and find echoes in works from afar.
‘Sugar Spin’ is a celebration, but also a reflection on a time in which truth is spun and sugar-coated, attention spans are short, trust is fractured, and we are eager for one sugar hit after another. Joy and danger animate us as sweet seekers, but we are also storytellers and sense-shapers, ready to look, feel, talk and together shape new futures.
a happy hot little hand
a hand full
Sweetmelt offers speed, colour, dynamism and the unexpected, a high-octane vision of our contemporary world, weaving innovation with continuity, diversity with isolation, and excess and narcissism with fragility. GOMA’s central atrium is transformed by Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir’s vast colour field of synthetic hair flowing down the walls, a fluid backdrop to the snaking steel of Carsten Höller’s twin slides. The Long Gallery’s river view is filled by Pinaree Sanpitak’s sea of soft sculptures that combine the domed form of a Buddhist stupa and a woman’s breast. From the architecture of the stupa to ceremonial costume, artists constantly redefine our relationship with tradition.
Entering the galleries, we encounter Nick Cave’s majestic HEARD, both sculpture and performance. At the heart of Sweetmelt are the spectacular East Sepik Sar, or headdresses, created by the coastal Arapesh people of Papua New Guinea. Also made to be performed, they continue traditional modes of storytelling while incorporating new motifs and materials.
In the massed salon hang, tangka painter Tsherin Sherpa depicts humanity as a cosmos of multi-coloured hands; Jan Nelson paints teens isolated behind their mirrored sunglasses; eX de Medici offers a pirates’ cave of loot, luxury and skulls; and Michael Zavros shares a self-portrait in which he appears mesmerised by his own reflection. Anne Noble collaborates with Ruby, her daughter, to create a series of images focused on the mouth–melting sweets and a vivid green chunk of apple become both delicious and uncanny.
Beautiful ideals are also revealed as fragile, threatened, or even illusory: we find a broad-branched tree in a paper shopping bag, while Tony Albert’s rendering of Captain Cook’s arrival in Australia as a comforting candy-coloured bedtime story offers a laconic perspective on a painful history.