You’ve likely seen the ‘Temple of Boom’ standing tall in the NGV Garden, but now there’s a new architectural work set to take shape in the gallery’s outdoor space. Building on a series of annual commissions including the much-loved Pink Pond and the aforementioned colourful Greek-style temple, this year’s NGV Architecture Commission has been announced and it’s sure to be just as breathtaking as its predecessors. However, unlike previous installations, this one will actually be doing the breathing.
Opening on November 23, ‘(This is) Air’ will see a giant inflatable sphere that literally inhales and exhales throughout the day become the centrepiece of the garden. The balloon-like structure will morph throughout the day as it draws in and releases air in a natural rhythm. If you get close enough, you may even get to feel a gust as the sphere ‘exhales’.
The work will be created by award-winning Australian architect Nic Brunsdon in conjunction with Eness, a St Kilda-based art installation studio. At more than 14 metres tall, ‘(This is) Air’ seeks to make the invisible visible, drawing attention to the significance of the air we breathe. By making air seen, heard and felt, the work will encourage visitors to consider their connection with and dependency on air as a finite resource.
“The idea for the project was conceived by the architect during the global pandemic, when the air we breathed was suddenly at the forefront of everyone’s mind”, says Ewan McEoin, NGV’s senior curator of contemporary art, design and architecture. “Air can be understood as part of our global economic, social and ecological realities. And yet, the quality of air we breathe varies depending on where and how we live. Air is universal, yet clean air is not.”
‘(This is) Air’ forms part of the upcoming 2023 NGV Triennial, which will bring together architecture, contemporary art and design with a theme of ‘magic, matter and memory’. Over the summer, the installation will play host to public programs and performances in the NGV Garden.