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MONA - the park next to God

By Fiona Prior - posted Wednesday, 22 January 2014

David Walsh – the force behind Hobart's MONA, the awe inspiring collection of Old and New Art in its equally awe inspiring architectural wonder of a building cut into a cliff face – does not believe in sin (I read that somewhere while in Tasmania).

In MONA's car park, however, is a car space reserved for 'God', right next to one for 'God's Mistress', so there is a definitely a spiritual dimension happening here.

I visited Red Queen at MONA, an evolutionary curatorial vision that encompasses everything from Egyptian coffins (Coffin of Heryshefemhat , 25th – early 26th Dynasty, c. 730–600 BCE); to iconic artworks including Sternenfall / Shevirath Ha Kelim (2007) by the creative giant Anselm Kiefer; Bit.Fall (2001-2006) by Julius Popp, a water text installation as poetic as it is critical of our era of information saturation; and a phantom light work you can only glimpse from the corner of your eye as you glance away ... I registered the glimmer of an elusive 'love' but, try as I might, I could not repeat the moment.


Some other favourites were a giant incense ash rendered Buddha (Berlin Buddha, 2007 by Zhang Huan) facing what looked like his cyber doppelganger; and some highly erotic art (red curtains indicate adult only zones) – one portrait in this latter category was the 'evolution' of a hormonally transitioning nude, a whiskered face gazing at the viewer from a woman's naked and explicitly displayed body (Matrix, 1999 by Jenny Saville) – to mention only an astonishing handful of MONA's cultural wonders.

All works are contained in an architectural fortress (designed by Nonda Katsalidis) that would leave Sheik Khalifa, the President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, green with envy and that he hadn't snaffled Walsh's MONA vision for his own cultural vision of Saadiyat Island. Sheik Khalifa's vision is similar to Walsh's and destined to also turn a seemingly ordinary island into one of the world's cultural high points but Saadiyat Island is not due for completion until this decade's end.

Need I say more??

Just a little. Almost every work is accompanied by a philosophical or observational byte by Walsh which illuminates his attraction/reaction to the piece. Drafting these bytes would have been a project of no small consequence and makes the experience of MONA uniquely resonate with a glimpse of the collector.

Go immediately to MONA if you have not already made your pilgrimage to this cultural temple. It is just next to God's parking spot, Hobart, Tasmania.


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This article was first published on Henry Thornton.

Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road Berriedale
Hobart Tasmania 7011

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About the Author

Fiona Prior has contributed to many arts related publications over the last two decades including The Bridge, Pulz, Stiletto, Satellite and Billy Blue.

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