Friday, February 25, 2011

MONA OMG! (Part 2)

The delayed MONA post part deux!
As we descended down into the Dr Evil style underground lair and wandered amongst a gallery that is probably three times the size of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, (which utterly captivated us for a day and a half), two questions kept swirling in my head. Why and How? Why had this guy created this amazing museum (which is completely free to go to), and what had driven him to do it and how the hell did he get the cash to do it? To reiterate, the museum is full of his private collection, and what is currently exhibited is just half of what he owns thus far!

                           Bit. Fall - Julius Popp

For the answer to the "how" question - I turned to the impressive slab of a book that is essentially the catalogue to the current exhibition. The way he puts it, quite bluntly, David Walsh has made his cash gambling, which kind of astonishes me, I never thought it could essentially be a steady source of massive income!  Considering that many of the works in the museum would probably cost about half a million each, we're seemingly talking some serious money.

                                2 x stills above from "Secret Machine" by Reynold Reynolds

The "why" seems to be a much more complex question, that seems to be circled around quite a bit in the catalogue. At one point he seems to be directly coming to the point, but then veers away from it, and then appears to change his tune a bit. Various explanations offered for the "why" include...
- "because I could"
- "I'd like to tell you why but I can't because I don't know"
- "The history of our lives looks like intention, but it is really just doing the living thing and then, when the need arises finding a rationalisation".
...Still a bit of a mystery really.

                     A Curious Victorian Monkey Skeleton - Europe, probably England c.1860

                           Cholera. Seed. The Martyrdom of Saint Thomas - Damien Hirst

The mystery is part of the intrigue of the place for me. We actually went to MONA only 5 days after it's opening, and David Walsh himself was there, showing some people around. Being the intrepid sleuths that we are, we kind of followed him around, and listened to some of his introductions to a few works. From a surface impression, and not really following close enough to hear exactly every word uttered, I kind of got the impression that he was quite passionate, maybe a tad eccentric, and could equally be a gazillionaire (as he is), as he could be some crazy homeless dude. Probably quite a slanderous and inaccurate description, and I qualify again, one based on the scantest of information and of my own personal, and most probably skewed view.

                                     Untitled (Stool for Guard) - Taiyo Kimura

                                 Loop System Quintet - Conrad Shawcross

                                     Sternenfall/Shevirath Ha Kelim - Anselm Kiefer

                                 Bullet Hole - Mat Collishaw

This corridor signaled the way to the 'not suitable for children" section of the gallery. A lot of fuss has been made in the media about some of the works exhibited, how they're very controversial and borderline "art" etc etc. So much so, that before we went, I thought we were in for a bit of an overtly shocking curatorial experience. I really found nothing further from the truth. There was only one work that kind of disturbed me, and there was nothing in the group experience of viewing all the works together that made it at all shocking. Rather, I thought the placement of contemporary works next to ancient artifacts a brilliant curatorial device that enhanced the experience of both.

                                Untitled - Jannis Kounellis and Snake - Sidney Nolan

                                             Sternenfall - Anselm Kiefer

                                              Untitled - Jannis Kounellis

                           Cloaca Professional - Wim Delvoye
Cloaca Professional, was a funny piece. It is "fed" in the mornings, I think with food scraps from the cafe and restaurant, then at 3pm in the afternoon, it creates a "poo". Which if you showed up on time, you could watch it taking. It came out of the apparatus at the very right of the picture and released into a glass petri-style dish. It smelt very much like a poo. We didn't stick around to absorb the odours for long!

                                             Encyclopedia - Charles Sandison

                                 Queen (A Portrait of Madonna) - Candice Breitz

Queen (A Portrait of Madonna) consisted of a video grid of people singing acapella to an entire Madonna album. Some of them were really getting into it, you know with all the abandon of the hairbrush in front of the mirror style. Really amusing to watch!

                                     The Holy Virgin Mary - Chris Olifi

Holy hell, who knew this so incredibly controverisal work of its time was holed up in Tassie!

                                 (This one was a Mikala Dwyer, but I didn't get the title)

                                              Tracing Time - Claire Morgan

The piece above was an absolute favourite, it's a terrible photo, doing it no justice, but it was the most beautiful, evocative and slightly creepy piece of work. It consisted of hundreds of delicate strands that were threaded through with pollen and which suspended a dead bird amongst them in a sort of delicate trap. The painstaking work of all the threading and the absolute precision of how each strand lined up perfectly to create a pattern with the threaded pollen was incredibly impressive. I think I was quite attracted to the piece as it's something I would never, ever have the patience to do.

             Mummy and Coffin of Pausiris - Egypt - Ptolemaic to Roman Period c. 100BCE - CE100

Having visited the beautiful southern state of Tassie 6 times already, all I can say is that this museum is such a treasure, and further enhances my love of this beautiful land. I will definitely be returning, and I can't wait to see the next exhibition! In the meantime, I will satisfy my craving for all things Tassie with a new favourite - the gorgeous little glowing lights blog.


  1. Technical information on the Pausiris exhibition/gallery

  2. Wow! Check out the link above - it's mind blowing!

  3. Hi there, thanks for post. wondering if its okay for us to use one of your photos on our facebook page? can't see you're email on here.