Time-lapse: Watch Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Riverbed’ come to life


Olafur Eliasson’s commanding and interactive Riverbed 2014 is currently on view in the ‘Water‘ exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). The small stream that weaves through a landscape of water-rounded stones offers audiences a chance to explore, play, and ponder its existence. This interior-environment is out of place, without vegetation, birds or other markers of time and place, is it the very first landscape on Earth, an environment yet to spring into life, or is this the last precious water source in a barren, post-apocalyptic future?

Behind the vision of the renowned Danish/Icelandic artist and architect’s work was a huge team at QAGOMA all equipped with unique skill sets to transform an empty gallery in to an awe-inspiring rocky landscape.

Watch the time-lapse

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Like many of Eliasson’s artworks, Riverbed is inspired by the rugged beauty of Iceland. While the artist was born in Denmark, his parents are both originally from Iceland and he visited his father there regularly throughout his childhood. The landscape within Riverbed is particular to Eliasson but also feels universal — a source landscape for us all.

In Iceland, as once-majestic glaciers melt they leave behind a bed of tumbled rock very like this. Immediately outside the gallery the Brisbane River flows, rising and falling with the tides. It is hard to imagine this wide river reduced to a fragile stream, but we need not travel far to observe the crippling effects of drought.

In Riverbed, everything we experience is carefully planned. Under the cool grey light, Eliasson seeks to take us into a deeper reality, amplifying our interaction with the world — our awareness of nature, the flow of time, and the choices we make.

We are all welcome to find our own way through Riverbed: we might follow the suggestion of a path, or find a quiet place to sit, touch the stones or feel the water pass through our fingers.

INTERESTING FACT: The water used in Riverbed is recycled via reservoir tanks installed behind the scenes.

RELATED: Dive deeper into the ‘Water’ exhibition

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Join us at GOMA until 26 April 2020

From major immersive experiences to smaller-scale treasures by Australian and international artists, the ‘Water‘ exhibition highlights this precious resource. Walk across Olafur Eliasson’s rocky riverbed; see animals from around the world gather together to drink from Cai Guo-Qiang’s brilliant blue waterhole; gaze at Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s snowman frozen in Brisbane’s summer heat; traverse a cloud of suspended gymnastic rings in a participatory artwork by William Forsythe, and reflect on the long history of our reliance on water through Megan Cope’s re-created midden.

Tickets to ‘Water’ are on sale at the exhibition ticket desk and online.

Kids and Families: Below the Tide Line

Kids and families can explore ocean conservation issues — particularly the impact that ghost nets have on the marine environment — via a spectacular artwork display, a drawing activity and an interactive screen-based animation. Find out more

Film Program: The Noise of Waters

See films that explore our complex and contradictory relationship with water — the essence of life and an indefatigable, destructive force. Find out more

Buy the ‘Water’ publication

An accompanying publication is available from the QAGOMA Store and online.

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Feature image: Olafur Eliasson, Denmark/Iceland b.1967 / Riverbed 2014 installed at the Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane 2019 / Water, rock (volcanic stones [blue basalt, basalt, lava], other stones, gravel, sand), wood, steel, plastic sheeting, hose, pumps / Courtesy: The artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York/Los Angeles

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