If you know what it's going to be, what's the point of making it?
Someone else's mind
A month ago I flew to Tasmania for the Mona opening, for one reason: to follow Pinky Beecroft and the White Russians. I've been following them since July 2009, and I've missed one show in that time - MONA FOMA 2010. I wasn't going to miss another.
I didn't really know what to expect of the gallery. I had heard next to nothing about the gallery and its owner. I loved the location instantly. I've been to Hobart twice now, and it feels like coming home to something. The design of the building was as surprising as the works it housed. I had missed my ferry, so I came in by road, and was in no way prepared for the size. It was at once welcoming and confronting, surprising and familiar. Despite being full of strangers, it felt private. It was dark, disorienting, but so comforting. It was an exploration.
There were no intrusions - no plaques on the wall telling me what to think, no frame of reference to hold onto. I didn't have the first idea what to do with my 'O' device, so I just carried it around wandering from work to work entirely without guidance, and I only partly regret this. I'd like to know the names of the works and artists that most moved me, but in being so uninformed, I felt I was lost in the subconscious, like some fairy-tale child wandering through the dark forest. I've since read articles comparing Mona to a labyrinth. Unlike Mona, the labyrinth follows a prescribed path. Mona leaves the walker with more freedom of movement, but I felt I had little control over the path taken by my mind. The personal nature of the collection really left me feeling that I was being acted on by someone else's mind. I'm completely captivated by it. I've been dreaming it. I think about it every day, and I know I'll be back again and again to experience it before too long because I simply can't bear not to.
And the sky is dull and the water dark
There are interludes when the Derwent sparkles, but on this day in late summer, autumn is already imposing itself. Tomatoes aren't ripening and the sky is dull and the water dark. Early colonists got Van Diemen's Land right. The tourist videos of happy, smiling and green Tasmania are wrong. This imprisoned island at the end of the world is an autumnal place...
Mona is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation. Display lights and taste and stunning effects illuminate moral bankruptcy. What is highlighted melds perfectly with contemporary high fashion, design, architecture, cinema. It is expensive and tense decay. For the uncomprehending, uncritical, unmoved tourists it is meaningless matter superbly showcased-though if you threw out the art and put in a (gay) wedding expo, a psychic convention or a showing of hot rods they probably wouldn't even notice, or care. Beside a tall water-filled glass tank several visitors are talking. In the water are a number of artefacts, and fish swim at the top of the tank. These people, some of the most excited I see, are fascinated. They are wondering if the fish are piranhas.
'Mona's Brutal Banality',
I felt the need to do certain things and
people said, 'That's art,'
and slowly I believed them. It took ten years.
Working with artists is just like working with human beings, only they're not as smart.
Oh he's an arsehole, David, I think he's an
arsehole. It seems to me that with Mona, he is
Walt Disney - it's all about his vision, and the artist is just getting in the way of that. That's
fine, but when he starts disparaging the artists - 'They sit in their studios and make these
dumb objects'... Well, maybe that dumbness is pretty smart.
Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road Berriedale
Hobart Tasmania 7011
+61 (3) 6277 9900
Due to a private function on Saturday 14 March some of our opening hours have been revised.