08 December 2011


Hobart's privately-owned Museum of Old and New Art is provocative so we were well prepared for our visit. First, the enjoyable aspects. The space in which the exhibits are displayed is indeed spectacular. It's dug into the solid rock, and the display areas and walkways are quite amazing. I quite liked a number of the exhibits.  For example, there's a device that uses drops of water to form words (see image below).   However,  there were others that I struggled with. Is a heap of coal “art”?

Many of the items have sexual themes, sometimes quite challenging. Even a couple of the exhibits that seemed to be innocent enough turned out to have sexual overtones when you read the description on the electronic guide that you're given. Ultimately these types of themes are are matter of personal preference, even if some of the treatments seem somewhat gratuitous. However , this is what MONA is known for, so it's hardly cause for complaint.

But (as no doubt intended) I was definitely confronted by a number of the items. In particular, I found disturbing the displays involving various forms of mutilation and cruelty, some very specific. True, there aren't a lot of these, but even so, the question again arises as to whether such things really are “art”? No doubt terrible things do occur in our world, but personally I think there are better ways of dealing with them than via art. I think there is a real risk that the result of displays such as these is that we will be de-sensitised.

We tossed up whether to take the ferry up the river to MONA. In fact, this is a good option, although you do have to decide in advance (when booking) how long you're going to stay. 2 or 3 hours for the museum plus some time for refreshments (perhaps in the cafe) seemed to us to be plenty of time. If, in addition to MONA, you were going to eat in the up-market restaurant (separate from MONA, but on-site), you'd need more time. Another option would be to go to the wine bar (again outside MONA) rather than eat in the cafe.

1 comment:

  1. A very informative review, and done with integrity. Having just found this site I read back to the beginning of October. How long has this been going on?
    At al events I am happy to award the collection the Palme de Pepys!
    And don't protest that it's not in the genus "diary". That word was invented not all that long before Pepys from diarium (day) to describe a record of events and experiences on some days.
    This diary is worthy of promotion to "muse".