Oh, My, God!
Perhaps, in this wondrous encounter with the Walsh World, this is the most common expletive.
But I guess you get that when you see chocolate incarnations of suicide bombers; or deracinated chaps in death-inviting flagrante delicto.
Whatever, Walsh-World is wondrous.
It is. Love it or hate it.
And, that will be the reaction of any visitor to MONA.
I’m sorry. I love it.
I love it all. I was in raptures yesterday at one human being’s extraordinary capacity for generosity and celebration of creativity; for its High Alter homage to the Soul, expressed in all its astonishing breadth ... from the art of Mayor Guliani’s nemesis Chris Ofili’s portrait The Holy Virgin Mary (1996), a black Madonna with elephant dung over one breast and a background collage of female genitalia from magazine clippings; or Belgian artist Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca machine which excretes mock turds. HERE
But, I have to say, as some form of inadequate explanation of why I love it, I come from a long line of Christian fundamentalists.
So, there is a sense in which I “get” David Walsh.
I am so overly familar with the hint - and who can know another human being’s full experience - but the hint of another’s juvenile world.
For I suspect there are not dissimilarities with David Walshs’s Glenorchy world and my world of Marrawah, Natone, Upper Stowport and Burnie: there is the similar insularity; the dismissive arrogance; the boy out of time and place; the boy told in no uncertain terms so long ago: “You can take the Boy from the Country; You can’t take the Country from the Boy.”
It really is quite awful when you experience it. And it drives you ...
I don’t know this guy David Walsh’s story. I don’t know the philosophical underpinning which supports us all in our many and varied lives as Creatures of Belief (and Uncertainty). I’ve only ever briefly shaken his hand; only ever observed that seemingly shy, self-effacing demeanour.
But I do know from this Museum how much he celebrates our animality ... from the engine of glorious desire (I love those wall-long casts of the vagina; The Origin Of The World, as Gustave Courbet expressed it in 1866; now David I’d love to see that at MONA) - and its finality; whether from violent death or slow, inexorable demise.
But, if you deny your animality and your fundamentals of Darwinian struggle, you are already dead ...
But if there is an afterlife - and I live in deep desire for this and remain a Believer - surely Sydney Nolan’s masterpiece of creation would be there: this is what I came for; I have read so much about it; as a complete ignoramus I have wondered about Snake and its extraordinary history of being hung, but twice in 40 years. Now it’s got a home. Oh Joy. Wait til you see this… if you don’t die of joy, you are already dead ...
There were significant numbers of pollies at trough with moi ... lovely you to see you Michael and I must say you were looking sleek, very well oiled and brushed and fit for your much-anticipated Third World adventures.
So all this is based on, is funded by, gambling.
How can you morally justify this, I hear you say.
I don’t know.
I do know I have never been to any of Greg’s parties, funded on the backs of Glenorchy et al through that wondrous, mysterious slot machine so ubiquitous in every gorgeous Third World venue in the burbs. I’m sure Michael has.
But I doubt he would have rubbed shoulders with the likes of Cheryl from ‘Norchy; there as a recipient of the good graces of Walsh’s citizens’ ballot, cheek by jowl with heavy-hitting A-list celebs as they jostled at bar for Walsh’s generous nectar, in whatever flavour you may want (I tried them all…).
There was even the Gov; my god - couldn’t Walsh have given him a private tour; guess not; in fact yesterday I heard of a number of shocked A-listers, who, on ringing for the private indulgence, were told that this museum is a museum of, for, the people. Get in line baby ... and they did.
Good heavens, the people, that lot. Aren’t they satisfied with the Light on the Hill.
You know, that unattainable star, often in the East ....?
Below: Four Tuffin pictures:
Nolan’s Snake, opposite sides of beef and sacks of coal ...
Ofili’s Holy Virgin Mary
A little history:
It was Anna Pafitis and Gerald Castles and a group of like-minded who saw another light on another hill more than a decade ago. They wanted to replicate Bilbao Guggenheim on Hobart’s waterfront; a spectacular edifice to blow the minds and open the wallets of the powerful from around the world; they were convinced an arts vision was a better way forward for Tasmania than Cargo Cult extractive philosophies.
Simon Bevilacqua was The Sunday Tasmanian’s Chief Reporter back then and championed the idea. I was News Editor at that time and happily leapt aboard, summoning His Grace Lord Mayor Rob Valentine to construct supportive words. Simon wanted a main splash heading with one word… Guggenheim. I set it up but chickened out because i didn’t think the Great Boss, the Editor in Chief, Rupey’s mate Ian McCausland would get it and the deconstructive examination of that Sunday’s paper at the Tuesday news conference wouldn’t be worth the agony. So the header became $100m Art Bid ... or something like that.
Then it sank without trace ... thankfully to rise in another form and another place, like the splendid Phoenix this idea always was ...
Kate Burton’s Picture Essay ...