Reviewed by Julie Kearney
'It reminds me of this past week in parliament,' joked Queensland Arts Minister Ian Walker when he viewed Cai Guo-Qiang's installation titled Head On at GOMA's new exhibition, Falling Back to Earth. This mesmerising work features 99 wolves hurling themselves at a glass wall and perhaps Mr Walker saw it as a metaphor for the proclivity of politicians to make blind and foolish decisions.
Another, equally stunning installation is Heritage which was inspired by the artist's visit to Blue Lake on North Stradbroke Island in 2011. In surroundings of shadowless dreamy white, 99 wild animals from all parts of the world drink peacefully from a blue lake which is surrounded by pristine white sand. On one level the installation expresses the theme behind Cai's exhibition, which according to him is 'the return to a harmonious relationship between man and nature, re-embracing the tranquillity in the landscape.'
Certainly what is conveyed by this installation, albeit disquietingly, is a sense of stepping into a lost paradise, an experience Cai obviously shared with every other visitor who sees Straddie for the first time. In Chinese numerology, however, the number 99 symbolises something incomplete, something awaiting fulfilment, and Cai conveys this in a subtle way. The animals seem at peace but of course they are not animals, being merely constructions of polystyrene under hides of unknown provenance, and it is the unreality of the scene that gradually becomes the viewer's dominant impression. What you are looking at, the installation seems to say, is the ideal. It is not reality. As subtly insistent as the single drop of water that silently breaks the surface of the lake, the frozen tableau of beautiful endangered creatures made life-like by art confronts us with what we have lost in our environment and what we are yet to lose if we don't take action.
To judge by gallery visitors' responses, a similarly disquieting effect seems to have been produced by another installation titled Eucalyptus which is no more and no less than a magnificent upended gum-tree. On the wall alongside, on drawing-paper provided, one visitor's message says of the paper it was written on: 'This was a tree', while another one simply reads: 'Protect Stradbroke Island's lakes and wildlife. End sand-mining'.
An artist of international standing, Cai Guo-Qiang is no stranger to the Brisbane art scene, having produced a huge gunpowder-driven calligraphic serpent on paper in homage to the Brisbane River, as well as other installations for two Asia-Pacific Triennials. It is the mark of good art that it has the power to raise questions in the minds of its viewers and Falling Back to Earth is no exception to Cai's earlier work. You won't be disappointed by a trip to GOMA to ponder and wonder over his installations and what they suggest about our current relationship with our environment.
Popular posts from this blog
Stradbroke gardens In this edition we have seen the difference 10 years of bush care c an make and some weeds to watch out for . Below is some advice as to suitable trees, ground cover and shrubs to plant in your Stradbroke garden. Pig face, a great native garden plant. Suitable native trees Lophestemon confertus (box tree) - canopy tree for big gardens or pruning Banksia integrifolia – (coastal banksia) - attracts birds Banksia aemula or serrata (wallum banksia) – attracts birds Elaeocarpus reticulatus (blue berry ash) Pandanus pedunculatus (pandanus/ screw palm) Cupaniopsis anacardioides (tuckeroo) Suitable ground cover Carpobrotus rossii (Pig face) Lomandra longifolia Dianella caerula (edible purple fruit) Jasminum didymum – yellow flowers Hibbertia scandens (yellow snake vine) Myoporum acuminatum Viola banksii (native violet) Suitable shrubs Banksia robur (swamp banskia) Banksia oblongifolia (dwarf
A shy creature, distantly related to the elephant, which communicates by chirps, whistles and barks – the dugong may be one of Moreton Bay’s least seen and most fascinating inhabitants. Approximately 1000 dugongs live in the warm waters of the sheltered and shallow bay. Globally, however, there are serious threats to this gentle animal’s survival. The World Conservation Union lists the dugong as vulnerable to extinction. The name dugong derives from a Malay word meaning Lady of the Sea, yet elsewhere they are less-flatteringly referred to as Sea Cows, due to their diet of seagrass. They are the only marine herbivorous sea mammals in the world and have been observed to suckle their young for up to five years, even though calves start eating seagrass at three months old. Solitary animals, they travel alone or in pairs for most of their 70-year lifespan, although they have been seen in herds of 10 to 300. Their distant relationship to the elephant goes some way to explaining the
In this issue One Mile Dunwich - Wild Bird Alert! Moreton Bay’s Wetlands of International Importance Foxes continue to be baited in large numbers Koala Count 2017 Moreton Bay Water Quality Improves for 2017 The War on Cane Toads Did the Norfolk Great Wave occur on North Stradbroke Island? One Mile Dunwich - Wild Bird Alert! Pied Oystercatchers and terns on the Bradburys Beach high tide roost near the One Mile water taxi terminal. One Mile Dunwich - Wild Bird Alert! Riding the ferries and water taxis to the island is always a pleasure, but travellers coming and going at the One Mile ferry terminal have the extra bonus of passing through a wild bird hotspot. Before the ferry ties up, observant passengers can look out for the Eastern Osprey nest on a navigation buoy and admire the pelicans and cormorants expertly perched atop mooring poles. As travellers disembark, flitting above them in the terminal are Welcome Swallows attending their mud nests tucked among the