image

You know the sound that fine shiraz makes, poured liberally into a glass…

...that deep throaty, succulent, devour-me-now life-wish, swishing and sloshing seductively in the glass.

Wim Delvoye had that affect on me yesterday/night.

He’s intoxicating. He doesn’t push envelopes. He explodes them.

Thank god for that. And god figures big-time in his iconography.

God is everywhere. Well the god who inhabited the fallout from his Catholic upbringing in Belgium. Mine was in Natone/Upper Stowport (back of Burnie mate; better than being Upper Penguin). farm-bound son of North West Coast fundamentalists. We were hemispheres apart, but not spiritually, I don’t think. Both with issues to work out, perhaps.

I hate articles where the writer intrudes and it’s all about him/her;  good old-fashioned narcissism; let’s talk about me.

So that’s the end of me. Let’s talk about Wim and his new MONA exhibition (HERE). There’s lots to talk about.

The god of the cross is everywhere ...  from the suspended cathedral scrunched and warped and spinning into a black hole which greets the watcher ... to the stations of the cross [David wanted them all on a straight wall; I favoured the tradtional cathedral; facing each other as the worshipper? passes between them (IMHO Wim was right)].

Stained-glass windows, the extraordinary Jesus-on-the-Cross in some captured continuous loop. These are going to push your buttons; they are going to make you think and feel; they are going to make you wonder; they are going to make you ponder ...

Which of course is what David Walsh and Mona do best. You never enter this cathedral without foreknowledge of profound challenge to your philosophical/emotional underpinnings. Some say it is a jaded, cynical exercise in profound narcissism. Perhaps. But god. What a gift to Tasmania is this cathedral.

The Premier was there at the party afterwards; what buttons were pushed there? Any? Did the subservient Overseer-to-the-Establishment-Masters ponder that Walsh and Mona represent an exponential leap into another reality for this little island captured for too many years by the mindless visigoths of If-it-moves-shoot-it-if-it-don’t-chop-it-down-if-it’s-still-warm-root-it. (I’m deeply biased here; I’m a back-of-Burnie boy who saw his holy places ransacked by industrial farming and forestry).

Leo was there too. The wonderful Leo Schofield. It has always astonished me that this gifted arts-world authority (and there aren’t many) who calls Tasmania part-time home has never ever been asked by the arts establishment to consult on, perhaps curate, a Ten Days on the Island. It is incomprehensible. Perhaps because he is outside of so many loops. He’s someone you can’t control. And Tasmania and its small-minded throwback cartels of business and media and society love to control (“Toe The Line or You Don’t Work in Tasmania”).

Leo the Lion is idiosyncratic. Just like Mr Walsh and his Mona. Gloriously, wondrously outside the loop; pissing not from within The Tent; but on it. Unable to be controlled. Mona: All from gambling, I hear you say. I make no judgment; but I do pose a question. Where is such a gift from the avaricious Farrells who feast on the carcasses of the pokies-addicted and on whom the Laras of all political persuasions fawn ...

But back to Wim. He was not aloof last night. He was not the isolated artist. He engaged endlessly with the punters. He explained his philosophy. This artist from Old Europe was expansive in his praise of Walsh, whom he has known for years. Walsh gets him. He talked of wishing to do something like Mona in Europe. But there were not the resources. Again you are reminded of what an extraordinary thing is Mona, here at the bottom of the world; this cathedral of idiosynractic creativity which thrusts a Bilbao back to the jaded town it once was.

Years ago (sorry I have to briefly be a narcissist) I was news editor of the Sunday Tasmanian. And Simon Bevilacqua (Tasmania’s best investigative journalist) said we should do a story on Anna Pafitis and Gerard Castles et al and their vision for a different future for Tasmania. They had a vision for a Guggenheim on Hobart’s waterfront. We got the story up. It was the front page lead (now there lies a story; I created an entire false front page on some lowest-level-of-swift-intuition-subject to show the then editor-in-chief before supplanting it with Guggenheim; sorry Ian).

Guys it’s happened. Aint life (at the end of which lie Love and Paradox) grand!x And Wim and his religious iconography, and his astonishing pigskin tattoes, and the human tattoo Tim and Wim’s gymnasium of cloacas celebrate it.

image

image

image

image

• Rob Walls: MONA visited, revisited, revisited and revisited…

image

Despite the howls of protest and criticism from more conservative professional museum curators, they cannot put down the overwhelming success of David Walsh’s Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart. Walsh himself, has described it as “a subversive adult Disneyland”.

It is not without controversy, attracting such negative comments in TheMercury as “You sick bastards. That place better be shut down soon. What is the world coming to? What will the next generation of children turn out like after viewing such revolting, hellish ‘art’. They’ll be torturing mutilating murderers.”

“Mr Walsh has made a very big mistake in setting up this thing in Berridale. It’s going to become the biggest white elephant ever in Tasmania. I see it as an extension of the sewerage treatment plant that’s situated right next door to the “museaum”. Both facilities are full of excriment that should be flushed away. It’s a joke people. A joke.”

On the other hand, there are many who actually get David Walsh’s vision and are rewarded and stimulated by it: “WOW, regardless if you love it or hate it, you have to agree this will put Hobart on the map of Australia for the world to see. It is probably the biggest push the city has ever had to come into this century and compete with the bigger cities around the world. Its private, yet free. What a selfless visionary Walsh must be. I wish I still lived in Hobart to see this gem. This “museum” might go a long way to help Hobart lose its “redneck” image to the rest of Australia. Congrats Walsh.”

Since its opening last January, more than 350,000 visitors have passed through its dramatic reflective portals. Last week, I made my fourth visit and again drew deep satisfaction, enjoyment and visual stimulation from being challenged by MONA. Here are some pictures from my last two visits:

See them all on Rob’s website: HERE