William Forsythe, The Fact of Matter, 2009 - Photograph by Chloë CallistemonA major exhibition of almost 100 works by leading international and Australian artists that explores the centrality of water to human life is now on display at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA).

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,” said Chris Saines, Director  Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

“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.”

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; and Julian Charrière’s The Blue Fossil Entropic Stories I 2013 – a powerful image of a iceberg being blow torched.

Also on display is 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,” said Ms Barlow. “We’re thrilled to have Olafur here in Brisbane as we present Riverbed for the first time in the Southern Hemisphere.”

“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,” said Ms Barlow.

Other exhibition highlights include Vera Möller’s sculptural installation Vestibulia 2019 – evoking 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 free-diving; and Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s Snowman 1987/2017-19.

While 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?

Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), Stanley Place, South Brisbane
Exhibition continues to 26 April 2020
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: www.qagoma.qld.gov.au for details.

Image: William Forsythe, The Fact of Matter, 2009. Site-specific installation comprising gym rings, fabric straps, gym mat and truss system / Dimensions variable. Pictured: Installation view, William Forsythe: The Fact of Matter, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2019. Courtesy: The artist. Photograph by Chloë Callistemon © William Forsythe