The Gallery’s summer blockbuster exhibition ‘Air’ explores the cultural, ecological and political dimensions of this elemental substance with major works by more than thirty leading international and Australian artists including Carlos Amorales (Mexico), Dora Budor (Croatia), Tacita Dean (UK/Europe), Mona Hatoum (Lebanon/UK), Jonathan Jones (Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi, Australia), Anthony McCall (UK/USA), Ron Mueck (Australia/UK), Jamie North (Australia), Thu Van Tran (Vietnam/France), Tomás Saraceno (Argentina) and Jemima Wyman (Pairrebeener, Australia).
‘Air’ presents works of art, many newly commissioned, in a range of media from large immersive installations to intimately scaled objects across the entire ground floor of the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.
At the heart of the exhibition is Drift: A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms 2022 (illustrated) by Argentinian-born, Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno, a major new commission that takes the form of a mesmerising constellation of fifteen partially mirrored spheres suspended in GOMA’s central atrium space. Saraceno’s Drift engages the poetic and imaginative potential of air as its partially transparent, partially reflective orbs float above the viewer at different heights, some moving gently as if breathing.
Tomás Saraceno ‘Drift: A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms’
Through five unfolding chapters — Atmosphere, Shared, Burn, Invisible and Change — the work of contemporary artists in ‘Air’ will inspire visitors to consider the global environmental and social challenges we face, including sustainability, equity and connectivity.
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. The exhibition asks us to consider the air we share with all other life, to reflect on what it means to breathe freely and to examine air as a metaphor for change and the realisation of our potential. ‘Air’ follows ‘Water’ the major GOMA exhibition of summer 2019-20.
Chalk Fall 2018 (illustrated), a monumental work by leading UK artist and filmmaker Tacita Dean is unveiled for the first time following its recent acquisition. Dean’s textural, multi-panel drawing evokes England’s White Cliffs of Dover in chalk, while Mona Hatoum’s neon-lit sculpture Hot Spot 2006 (illustrated), made to depict a world burning with political turmoil, now aptly describes our ecological crisis.
Tacita Dean ‘Chalk Fall’
DELVE DEEPER: A precipice between land, sea and air
Mona Hatoum ‘Hot Spot’
DELVE DEEPER: Large-scale globe casts earth in an emergency-red glow
Other highlights include Dora Budor’s trio of glass chambers Origins I–III 2019 (Origin II (Burning of the Houses) illustrated), containing eerie volcanic mounds and puffed clouds of pigmented dust, and Jonathan Jones’s untitled (giran) 2018 (illustrated), an installation of bird-like sculptures with an accompanying soundscape created in collaboration with Dr Uncle Stan Grant Sr AM. Carlos Amorales’s swarm of black moth and butterfly silhouettes Black Cloud 2007/2018 (illustrated) is a stark reminder of the fragility of life; Anthony McCall’s solid-light installation Crossing 2016 (illustrated), makes air visible through shafts of light intersecting with smoke haze.
Dora Budor ‘Origin II (Burning of the Houses)’
DELVE DEEPER: Dora Budor’s colour fields in motion
Jonathan Jones ‘untitled (giran)’
Carlos Amorales ‘Black Cloud’
DELVE DEEPER: 30 000 butterflies & moths migrate to GOMA
Anthony McCall ‘Crossing’
DELVE DEEPER: Anthony McCall makes air visible
New commissions also include Portal 2022 (illustrated), Jamie North’s twin concrete towers which feature plant species indigenous to Brisbane, holding growth and ruin in dynamic tension, and Jemima Wyman’s Plume 20 2022, a vast, cloud of air created from a collage of images depicting protest and civil unrest.
Jamie North ‘Portal’
DELVE DEEPER: Concrete is an unlikely home to an ecosystem of plants
Jemima Wyman ‘Plume’
Katie Paterson ‘To Burn, Forest, Fire’
DELVE DEEPER: Incense fragrances released daily under the Bodhi Tree
The exhibition is accompanied by the film program ‘Melting into Air‘ in the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA, 26 November 2022 to 23 April 2023. The free cinema program explores screen depictions of this essential element from over the past century, showcasing hidden mysteries within deep fogs, the sublime potential of natural phenomena, and the transformative power of the invisible world around us.
DISCOVER MORE: Melting into air – five unmissable films
Production still from ‘The Wind’ 1928
‘Air’ is on display at the Gallery of Modern Art, Gallery 1.1 (The Fairfax Gallery), Gallery 1.2 & Gallery 1.3 (Eric and Marion Taylor Gallery) from 26 November 2022 to 23 April 2023.
Buy timed tickets in advance to guarantee entry. Last session 4.00pm daily. Exhibition closes at 5.00pm.
The accompanying exhibition publication Air is available at the QAGOMA Store and online.