NGV: Jess Johnson // Wurm Haus

New Zealand-born, Australian based artist Jess Johnson will launch her Wurm Haus exhibition at NGV International on Saturday 5 December.

In a first for NGV, Johnson brings her virtual reality works of psychedelic and reality-warping spaces, along with a virtual ‘mind meld’ station at its centre.

Using the latest Oculus Rift technology, Wurm Haus invites visitors to approach a monumental star-shaped ‘altar’ and don virtual reality headsets to step inside Johnson’s new animation Ixian Gate, set in a dystopic universe inspired by science fiction, parallel universes, comic books and the visionary filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky.

‘Jess Johnson is renowned for her incredibly experiential installations and Wurm Haus takes this to a new level, allowing viewers to explore Johnson’s environment in 360-degrees and seamlessly look around as if they are physically inside her artwork.’

-Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

I took the plunge, and soon grabbed the altar with two hands to restore my sense of balance. The animation is at once hypnotic, sinister (in a daylight sense, not darkness), entrancing, vast and cold.

It’s a journey through an otherworldly planet of strange creatures, alien architecture and ancient symbols, with an extraordinary sense of depth, scale and stereophonic sound.

‘At once hypnotic and disorientating, cutting-edge Oculus Rift virtual reality technology completely immerses viewers in her world like never before. We’re thrilled to commission, premiere and acquire this new work, making it the first virtual reality artwork in the NGV Collection.’

-Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV.

Photo credit: Tobias Titz Image supplied by NGV


Eleven of Johnson’s intricate, large-scale drawings are also presented in the space against artist-designed wallpaper (pictured above) and pixelated carpet, creating a perfectly rich, layered environment.

Jess Johnson: Wurm Haus is on display at NGV International from 5 December 2015 – 31 January 2016. Open daily, 10am–5pm. Free entry.

View the Ixian Gate trailer here:

Ixian Gate Trailer (2015) from Simon Ward on Vimeo.

Ixian Gate project team
Artwork: Jess Johnson Animation: Simon Ward and Kenny Smith Sound: Andrew Clarke


Plus, on Saturday 5 December at 12 noon:

Artist in Conversation: Jess Johnson

Jess Johnson shares insights into the process of developing her reality-warping work Ixian Gate. Speakers Artist Jess Johnson and Serena Bentley, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art. FREE.

Venue: NGV International | 5 December 2015 – 31 January 2016 | Free entry. Exhibition space on Level 3 (hint: Don’t wait to ask at the front desk. Follow the escalators up three levels).

For more information visit the NGV website.

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