A major exhibition of contemporary art exploring the centrality of water to human life opens tomorrow at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA)
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said ‘Water’ examined the significance of one of life’s most vital elements and addressed some of the major environmental and social challenges faced by the world today.
’Water’ includes almost 100 works by leading international and Australian artists and spans the entire ground floor of GOMA. It has been curated for audiences of all ages and will continue through summer until 26 April,’ Mr Saines said.
‘Nothing is so necessary to humanity’s flourishing as water, or so important to our local, daily survival. As a resource, water is in such scarcity in parts of our state, country and indeed the world, and yet it remains intrinsic to our weather cycles, climate and food chain.
‘Water’ is accompanied by a dynamic program of artist talks and discussions, film screenings, ‘planet protector’ tours for kids, ghost net workshops which utilise abandoned fishing nets, and ‘Water’ Up Late, presented as part of Curiocity Brisbane on 20 and 21 March, 2020.
Among the must-see artworks in the exhibition are Riverbed 2014 by Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, featuring a stream running through a vast landscape created from more than 110 tonnes of rock; Julian Charrière’s The Blue Fossil Entropic Stories I 2013, a powerful image of a iceberg being blowtorched; RE FORMATION 2019, a large sculptural oyster midden by Quandamooka artist Megan Cope; and Cai Guo-Qiang’s Heritage 2013, an installation of 45 life-size animals gathered around a pristine blue lake.
Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, Curatorial Manager of International Art, QAGOMA and curator of ‘Water’ said Eliasson’s Riverbed, inspired by the rugged beauty of the artist’s ancestral homeland, was a work that reminded us of the preciousness of water.
Riverbed is disconcertingly out of place, it looks natural but suggests a catastrophic landslide may have just occurred. Without vegetation, it’s an undulating field of stones that seems both primordial and post-apocalyptic,’ Ms Barlow said.
‘We’re thrilled to have Olafur here in Brisbane as we present Riverbed for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere.

‘William Forsythe’s installation of suspended rings, The Fact of Matter 2009, asks audiences to lift and move their bodies in order to traverse the space. While playful in spirit the challenge presented by the interactive work is real: how must we navigate rising sea levels — individually and collectively. We live in times of immense change so can we learn to move together differently, with urgency, agility and care?
‘Other highlights of ‘Water’ include Vera Möller’s sculptural installation Vestibulia 2019, that evokes an underwater garden or coral reef; Paul Blackmore’s Heat 1–4 2018, a series of photographs of the extended moment between diving under a wave and moving towards the ocean’s surface; Martina Armati’s film Under (Depth) 2015 capturing her experience of freediving; and Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Snowman 1987/2017-19.
‘Rising before us, as if from the layered depths, the monumental work Kiko Moana 2017 by Mata Aho Collective represents the sea as a vast rippling blue body. Judy Watson’s major new work wanami 2019 acknowledges the creative power of the rainbow serpent Boodjamulla, responsible for the life-giving waters, dramatic gorges and waterways of her mother’s country,’ Ms Barlow said.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch, said ‘Water’ is a timely and engaging exhibition that will provoke reflection, ideas and dialogue.

‘It tells important stories and encourages audiences to reflect and consider the impact of important environmental and social issues,’ Ms Enoch said.
‘For example, we will see ocean conservation and the marine environment highlighted in ‘Below the Tide Line’, a collaborative project between QAGOMA, Erub Arts of the Torres Strait and artists Marion Gaemers and Lynnette Griffiths. ‘Below the Tide Line’ features a major display of sculptures created from abandoned fishing nets, a drawing activity and an interactive animation.

‘I encourage visitors to experience the exhibition at GOMA this summer and connect with water in a whole new way,’ she said.
HSBC Australia Acting Chief Executive Officer Noel McNamara said HSBC was delighted to partner with QAGOMA on its major summer exhibition ‘Water’.
‘This exhibition will connect with both local and international visitors and provoke reflection and conversation on the issues surrounding water in modern society. It also aligns closely with the global HSBC Water Programme, a multi-year initiative which aims to protect water sources, educate communities, and contribute to the discussion on how finance can be used to deliver environmental outcomes,’ Mr McNamara said.
‘Water’ is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar, worth $880m to the state’s economy in 2019.
For more information on ‘Water’, the accompanying public program or to purchase tickets visit www.qagoma.qld.gov.au/water
Skye Leong
Author: Skye Leong

Creativity, Community, Culture