The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane (2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024) brings together a selection of 15 works from contemporary American and Spanish artists Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz’s ongoing ‘Travelers’ series of snow globes, each of which presents a disorienting scene of existential dread and kitsch.
Fairy-tale intrigue abounds in these works, which depict sentient trees stalking a woodsman (illustrated), and a figure in a hazmat suit confronting oversized mushrooms (illustrated) — just to name two of their mysteries — in minute detail. Each contains a unique tale devised by the artists, set against a stark, icy wilderness and projecting a feeling of unease. The name of the series itself is a cheeky play on the form: travellers they may be, but there is no escaping the fact these characters are sealed within their little worlds forever.
Buy Tickets to ‘Fairy Tales’
Opens 2 December 2023, GOMA
In fairy tales, illusion is commonplace: objects or people can appear or disappear with the wave of a wand, while magical mirrors provide windows onto realities invisible to the naked eye. Since the Cottingley Fairies photographs, camera technology has promised visions of worlds beyond our own. The ‘Cottingley Fairies’ photographic series (1917–20) by cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright were created in Cottingley, England, when they were 9 and 16 years old, respectively. The series of five photographs were reportedly taken for the girls’ parents as ‘proof’ that fairies were responsible for their dishevelled appearances after playing in the garden every day. Shot at a time when spiritualism was in fashion and photography was widely understood as a truthful medium, the photographs were met with enthusiasm, and many were convinced the images were authentic.
For Martin and Muñoz, the new technology of Augmented Reality (AR) offers a way of making these hidden worlds appear as if by magic. Their works also raise questions about the new technological frontier of parallel worlds created by artificial intelligence. The darkly comic Eden Exiled 2023 (illustrated) features a tree with garments on hangers hooked to its branches, and hands protruding from beneath the cuffs of a shirt.
When visiting ‘Fairy Tales’, scan the QR code to view Eden Exiled 2023 and two other works in Augmented Reality (AR).
Watch | Brisbane’s enchanting exhibition comes to GOMA this summer
The ‘Fairy Tales’ exhibition is across the entire ground floor of the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane, Australia from 2 December 2023 until 28 April 2024. ‘Fairy Tales Cinema: Truth, Power and Enchantment‘ screens at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA.
The major publication ‘Fairy Tales in Art and Film’ available at the QAGOMA Store and online explores how fairy tales have held our fascination for centuries through art and culture.
Featured image / Walter Martin, United States b.1953; Paloma Muñoz, Spain b.1965 / Traveler 335 (and detail) 2018 / Snow globe / 19 x 15.2 x 15.2cm / Purchased 2023 with funds from Tim Fairfax AC through the QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz / Image courtesy: The artists