I was in Hobart for a few days last week. Besides hanging out at the Salamanca markets, we spent a whole day at MONA. This turned out to be the highlight of the trip! I had heard so much about it, and I couldn’t wait to see it.
The first thing I noticed once I started the tour was the absence of labels identifying the artwork. Everything you wanted to know about the artwork was on the iPod (O device) you were given at the entrance. I thought it was so clever because I had the chance to review pieces at my own leisure and I didn’t have to queue to read up about it.
The whole museum is underground and is very impressive considering its unusual architecture. The content of the museum collection is eclectic and pertains to death, sex, and other thought provoking topics. I was amazed at the variety of artworks from around the world. I recognised pieces from local and international artists such as Marina Abramovic, Jenny Saville, Julia Deville, Ah Xian, Andres Serrano, Boris Mikhailov, to name a few. I found it quite exhilarating seeing a piece in the flesh of some of the artists I admire.
I loved too many pieces but one of my favorites was the video projection, Placebo 2002, by Saskia Olde Wolbers. It involved a woman narrating in the first person singular about what seemed like a dream. The film included abstract white paint drops which were in constant flux while the story was being narrated. The whiteness instilled a clinical purity which suited the story so well.
I can see how some of the artworks can be confronting for some viewers. In a way, it’s no different to our constant exposure to sex and death through the media. We see it everyday, whether we want to or not. It is a choice to set foot at the MONA and I can assure you, not everything is macabre, depressing, and/or offensive. I found some pieces witty and funny. David Walsh is a quirky man just like the artwork he collects.
In retrospect, I don’t think this will be my only visit to MONA.