Summer blockbuster AIR opens at QAGOMA

Mona-Hatoum-Installation-view-of Hot-Spot-2006-AIR-GOMA-2022-photo-by-M-CampbellThe Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) has opened its summer blockbuster exhibition, AIR, with a program of artist talks, discussions, pop-up performances, drop-in workshops and film screenings.

Across five themed chapters, 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).

QAGOMA Director Chris Saines said AIR presented 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 GOMA until 23 April 2023.

“At the heart of the exhibition is Drift: A cosmic web of thermodynamic rhythms 2022 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,” said Mr Saines.

“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.”

“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,” said Mr Saines.

Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow, QAGOMA’s Curatorial Manager of International Art, said AIR followed WATER – the major exhibition she curated at GOMA over the summer of 2019?20.

“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,” said Ms Barlow.

“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.”

Chalk Fall 2018, a monumental work by leading UK artist and filmmaker Tacita Dean will be unveiled for the first time in AIR following its recent acquisition by the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Charitable Trust.

Dean’s textural, multi-panel drawing evokes England’s cliffs of Dover in chalk, while Mona Hatoum’s neon?lit sculpture Hot Spot 2006, made to depict a world burning with political turmoil, now aptly describes our ecological crisis.

Other highlights in AIR include Dora Budor’s trio of glass chambers Origins I–III 2019, containing eerie volcanic mounds and puffed clouds of pigmented dust, and Jonathan Jones’s untitled (giran) 2018, 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 is a stark reminder of the fragility of life; Anthony McCall’s solid-light installation Crossing 2016, makes air visible through shafts of light intersecting with smoke haze; and Rachel Mounsey’s powerful photographs document the 2019 bushfires in Mallacoota, Victoria, which turned the morning skies a dark uneasy red.

New commissions in AIR also include Portal 2022, 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.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said QAGOMA will wrap up 2022 with the blockbuster exhibition AIR. Like its predecessor WATER, presented by QAGOMA with an attendance of more than 121 000 over four months in 2019-2020, AIR is a major exhibition developed in Queensland that leverages the arts to showcase the beauty of our environment and the important challenges we face as a society,” said Minster Enoch.

AIR is a ticketed exhibition. It is accompanied by a film program in the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA and a major publication featuring essays by exhibition curator Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow; exhibition co-curators Nina Miall and Sophie Rose; writer and broadcaster Daniel Browning; and Professor Lidia Morawska, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Stanley Place, South Brisbane
Exhibition continues to 23 April 2023
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Mona Hatoum, Lebanon/United Kingdom b.1952 / Installation view of Hot Spot 2006, ‘Air’ GOMA 2022 / Stainless steel and neon tube / 230 x 223 x 223cm / The David and Indre Roberts Collection / Courtesy: The Roberts Institute of Art, London – photo by M Campbell © QAGOMA