THE RED QUEEN
JUNE 18, 2013 TO APRIL 21, 2014
Tuesday June 18, 6pm-midnight
During Dark Mofo
The Red Queen is a character from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass. She's a sinister mixture of power and futility: even as she doles out orders willy-nilly, she seems to lock herself in a weird and lonely prison of words:
'What's the French
'Fiddle-de-dee's not English,' Alice replied gravely.
'Who ever said it was?' said the Red Queen.
Alice thought she saw a way out of the difficulty this time. 'If you'll tell me what language "fiddle-de-dee" is, I'll tell you the French for it!' she exclaimed triumphantly.
But the Red Queen drew herself up rather stiffly, and said 'Queens never make bargains.'
More curiously, the Queen is driven, by abstract forces, to run in order to keep pace with the world around her. However fast she goes, she never seems 'to pass anything', and 'the trees and the other things around' her don't change their place at all. '"[Do] all the things move along with us?" wonders Alice.
We're co-opting the Queen for our own purposes in this exhibition at Mona. But she's been corrupted already of course, by scientists working in the field of evolutionary biology. That notion - that one might run and run, with neither goal nor end - is one key to twenty-first century thinking about how species evolve, in brutal harmony, with their environment. We're not used to thinking of it like that. We like to imagine we are struggling ever-forward to some end-point - personal, collective, universal - that will atone for our suffering and make our joys mean something. Evolution has no such agenda, nothing in mind for us, as it molds us to the shape of our environment. When you look at it like this, and surrender the assumption of progress, all of a sudden our words and deeds - like the Red Queen's - mean nothing and everything at once; rich and strange nonsense indeed.
How does art fit into this? It is a behavior, a practice, that congeals humanity like the fat in a fry-pan; it clarifies and distills, evaporates the excess, until we can see (just for a moment) into the base of ourselves. And perhaps -- let us phrase it as a question. Is human-ness nothing but a set of such behaviours?
The answer, we hope and aim, will remain elusive; there will be no lessons learnt or taught, only contagious inquiry into the messy machinery of human nature.
Alice looked round her in great surprise. 'Why, I do believe we've been under this tree the whole time! Everything's just as it was!'
'Of course it is,' said the Queen, 'what would you have it?'
BEAM IN THINE OWN EYE
MAC2, JUNE 14 - JULY 28, 2013
'Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed', is
Jesus' absurdist counterpoint to Thomas' philosophy, which is
usually distilled to 'Seeing is believing'. Here we construct
reality by guessing, or by building a series of portraits.
In fact, we manufacture our view of reality by verifying, and perhaps refuting, hypotheses through the process of testing them against our observations. We decide what we believe by reference to our experiences, construct theories that make forecasts and test them against what actually happens. I suspect that a cup of tea will cool more slowly if I add milk sooner than later, but I could be wrong. Something like believing until we see otherwise, which is what Thomas actually did. That's why he was Thomas the Doubter. And that's why I am David the Doubter.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Here, the 'beam that is in thine own eye' is meant to refer to the faults in ourselves, but it beautifully conjures the notion of our reality shining from within. The conversation we have with art is a conversation with ourselves. And in this Dark Mofo exhibition, Beam In Thine Own Eye, we let the mind's eye shine.
Warning: If you have any history of photosensitive epilepsy, you are strongly advised not to enter the exhibition. Due to the immersive nature of the installation, there is a danger of motion sickness, trance-like states and blackouts; and epileptic seizures may be experienced in varying degrees. In addition, people suffering from asthma or general breathing problems, migraine and headaches, eye and ear diseases, or claustrophobia, are advised not to enter. Pregnant women, children and those below the age of 18 may not attend ZEE.
There is limited capacity in each installation.
Beam in Thine Own Eye is part of the Dark Mofo festival.
TODD MCMILLAN - TEN YEARS OF TEARS
JUNE 19 TO SEPTEMBER 16, 2013
Tuesday June 18, 6pm-midnight
During Dark Mofo
I like to think that a lot of my work sits between the sadness of leaving and the fear of return.
Works sampled from ten years of Australian artist Todd McMillan's absurd and melancholic video-art practice, on show in Roy Grounds' modernist masterpiece, The Round House - which now serves as the Mona library. Also on display is a collection of books, selected by the artist to show us the literary influences that have shaped his work.
I create my artwork hoping to mimic the condition of sitting down and reading a novel.
AN EVOLVING EXHIBITION, 21.01.2011
Highlights of the collection.
And lowlights. Evolving.