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Voice Plains & Memory Depth Metres

27 June, 2023 - 8 July, 2023

27 June – 8 July 2023

Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 7pm
Saturdays: 12pm – 4pm
admission: Free

…Water is a social medium as much as it is a biological necessity…

Water is a social medium as much as it is a biological necessity. Wagner’s confirmed PhD research and artworks ask, ‘how can contemporary art methods reveal new social and aesthetic understandings of our connections with water ecology and floodplains?’ Her investigation seeks to interrogate the ways in which our understanding of water emerges from diverse knowledge systems straddling both fact and fiction and argue for the methodological value of art as a crucial and unique set of modalities that can extend our understanding of water as a socially mediated element, beyond physical and psychological distance.

Focusing on a specific water system, the Murray River Floodplains network, Wagner seeks to create a network of material and socially-engaged artworks that brings into view both our individual and collective social and political memories of water. Drawing on a method that connects a dialogical engagement with targeted participants, the interview’s sound recordings are edited and harnessed to produce sound and light art installations. In choosing to work with a diverse group of participants who are asked to share their memories of water,

Wagner’s work seeks to offer new understandings of the relationship between socially-engaged art, sculpture and sound. She argues that a process of abstraction occurs in the slippage across media resulting in a current of noise whose meaning is elusive. Employing artworks (installations) to act as provocations that focus the audience’s attention while creating the pre-conditions for change, she so to affirm our innate connection with water and the need to maintain it.

Annette Wagner is an emerging artist, PhD Candidate, founder of Wunder Gym and a Creative Director.

Wagner grew up on the lands of the Latji Latji, where the Murray and the Darling rivers meet and understands water is a social medium as much as it is a biological necessity. Her interdisciplinary, practice-led research, is situated in contemporary arts, exploring concepts of memory and water ecology. Socially engaged methodologies inform her creative practice to examine notions of psychological distance. Her creative practice maps connections with water through oral histories and abstracts their sound frequencies into ‘voice prints’, generating contemporary artworks using light and sound, demonstrating our innate and enduring connection with water itself. She does this to support her artistic strategy, using contemporary art to promote engagement and connection, unravelling abstract concepts of climate change, shifting mental perceptions and encouraging social action.

Her PhD is generating a contemporary art response for the Victorian Murray River Floodplain Restoration Project (VMFRP). Mapping expansive personal water narratives central to our identity, exposing the significant gap in memories of water using contemporary art. Her reticulated methodology and artwork places public engagement centrally in an effort address community disconnection and impacts on our waterways and environments. 

In 2019 she founded a social practice called the Wunder Gym. Partnering with prominent arts events, institutions and LGA’s she successfully delivers community arts programs nurturing creativity and curiosity, with diverse exhibition outcomes.


27 June, 2023
8 July, 2023
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fortyfivedownstairs gallery
45 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia
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03 9662 9966
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03 9662 9966


Annette Wagner
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