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  • Fiona Prior

MONA - a fabulous thing

MONA and Serendipity

(*Henry suggested I republish my first impressions of David Walsh's MONA from 2014. Henry is presently visiting MONA for the first time.)

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 the exhibition Red Queen at MONA in 2014, an evolutionary curatorial vision that encompassed everything from Egyptian coffins; to iconic artworks including works by the creative giant Anselm Kiefer; and my favourite, a water text installation by Julius Popp, as poetic as it is critical of our era of information saturation; 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 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 of a hormonally transitioning nude, a whiskered face gazing at the viewer from a woman's naked and explicitly displayed body (by Jenny Saville). The above listed works are 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 in Red Queen was 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. Australia

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