Published on December 9th, 2014 | by Ann Rickard0
Art That’s On The Edge
I f we hadn’t heard the colourful reports about Hobart’s MONA (Museum of Old and New Art), we would have been as challenged as the thousands who had visited before us.
MONA, the controversial gallery/museum, has taken over from Port Arthur as Tasmania’s most visited tourist site, and its reputation for an edgy cultural experience does not disappoint.
As for the casts of women’s intimate parts, well … art?
And is the soundproof room with a wall of screens showing a bevy of Madonna fans individually singing from her Immaculate Collection album a work of art?
Do you love it? Do you hate it?
Speak your mind. It’s encouraged by way of a mobile phone given to you on entry so you can tap the screen to offer opinion and see how many before you have agreed or disagreed.
The museum was founded by David Walsh, an eccentric philanthropist and the owner of one of the largest private art collections in the world.
To avoid any pre-conceived ideas or judgment, no exhibit has a title or artist’s name.
You look, contemplate, admire or perhaps gasp or grimace – and form your own opinion. There is no right or wrong.
Your tour is charted on the phone and information on each exhibit, including its history and creator, is emailed to you.
You chose whether to receive your emails as you wander the museum or wait until later to discover what you have seen and relive the experience.
It is an unusual way to view works, as is intended. Nothing is the norm at MONA. And that’s the thrill of it.
Getting there, if you take the fast ferry, adds to the experience. You sail out of Hobart along the Derwent River to see MONA looming on a curved peninsular, the concrete and steel panelled building deliberately designed to underwhelm.
David Walsh wants no expectations – rather you must take a spiral staircase through a rock face to three subterranean levels cut into the sandstone of the river bank and slowly have the museum open to you.
On the bottom level you are 17m underground and there the revelations begin as your senses slowly adjust and you wander the galleries and ask yourself – am I shocked, informed, delighted or repulsed?