Posts Tagged ‘Hobart

04
May
16

Photograph: ‘Hobart Town – from Kangaroo Point 1891’

4th May 2016

 

This albumen photograph of Hobart, Tasmania was taken in 1891 by an unknown photographer. Mount Wellington behind the city. The photograph is one that is possibly not known before of this place. Kangaroo Point is now known as Kangaroo Bluff. I have scanned and lightly cleaned the image.

A memory of a different time and place.

Marcus

 

Many thankx to Nick Henderson for allowing me to scan this wonderful image.

Please click on the image to enlarge.

 

 

Unknown photographer (Australian) 'Hobart Town - from Kangaroo Point 1891' 1891

 

Unknown photographer (Australian)
Hobart Town – from Kangaroo Point 1891
1891
Albumen photograph
34.5 x 22.2 cm

 

 

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25
Oct
13

Exhibition: ‘Party’ by Anne MacDonald at Bett Gallery, Hobart

Exhibition dates: 11th October – 1st November 2013

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Children’s birthday parties as symbols of loss and impermanence.

In these wonderful photographs there is a sense of sadness and perhaps even nostalgia. There is a certain wistfulness at play, a longing/yearning/pining for the past: a past that never happened (in my case). There is a delicacy and spareness here – in the colours and placement of objects in the mise-en-scène – which enhances the poetic telling of the story, the restrained aesthetic emphasising the choreographed movements within the scene. This, in turn, emphasises a sense of loss.

In these bittersweet longings for an innocence (of person, of situation), small vibrations of energy carry great import. The suspended stars of Party No. 1, the abandoned heart of Party No. 5 with the single red ball perched precariously on the edge of the table – a masterstroke! If that little red ball was not there, the image simply would not work. To realise what the image needed, and to place that single ball there in the most knowing (yet spiritual) of positions, shows that this artist really knows what she is doing in this body of work. The fun/longing continues in Party No. 7, with its delicious monochromatic colours counterbalanced with the effusive staining of the spilt slurpee. Balance, restraint and intimacy are the key to these works, and MacDonald has achieved this to marvellous affect.

The only mis-step is the size of these images. I saw Party No. 2 at the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize 2013 at the Monash Gallery of Art recently at the largest size (110 x 160 cm, the other sizes being 76 x 110 cm and 33 x 38 cm) and it simply didn’t work. No ifs and buts, it simply did not work at the size it was displayed. Why artists persist is printing their work at a huge scale when the image simply cannot sustain such a size, both conceptually and visually, is beyond me. Is it because they think it will be lost in the crowd (of a prize) if they don’t print it that big, or because it’s fashionable to print so large and the clientele want it that size as a statement piece for their home? The ONLY size out of the three that these images will work is at 33 x 38 cm because of the intimacy of the subject matter. They photographs need to be jewel-like to radiate their energy. At the larger sizes this energy is totally lost.

So if you like this work buy three or four at the smaller size and let the images draw you into an intimate embrace with an impermanent, and perhaps fond remembered, past.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to Bett Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.1' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.1
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.2' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.2
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.3' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.3
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.4' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.4
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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“As a parent, observing my child growing up fills me with wonder, but also a sense of loss.

Children’s birthday parties are important social rituals, and on the surface of things, joyous and festive celebrations of life. However, on another level, they are compelling indicators of time’s inexorable passing. Children’s party decorations, food, gifts, games, toys and costumes alter each year with the age of the child. Their role extends beyond pure ornament and artifice to become symbolic of a transitory childhood world.

Looking at children’s birthday parties as symbols of loss and impermanence, Party continues my exploration into the relationship between the photographic still life, transience and mortality. In this series I have recreated ephemeral banquet scenes of party cakes and decorations. The images record the aftermath of the party, when all the fun is over, the presents have been opened, the cake eaten and the guests have left.”

Artist statement

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.5' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.5
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.6' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.6
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.7' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.7
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.8' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.8
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Anne MacDonald. 'Party no.9' 2012-13

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Anne MacDonald
Party no.9
2012-13
fine art ink-jet print
110 x 160 cm
edition of 5

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Bett Galllery
369 Elizabeth Street
North Hobart Tasmania 7000
Australia
T: +61 (0) 3 6231 6511

Opening hours:
10am – 6pm Monday – Saturday
12noon – 6pm Sunday

Bett Gallery website

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23
Jun
13

Exhibition: ‘Joan Ross: Touching Other People’s Shopping’ at Bett Gallery, Hobart

Exhibition dates: 7th June – 28th June 2013

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The claiming of things
The touching of things
The digging of land
The tagging of place
The taking over of the world

Tag and capture.
Tag and capture.
Shop, dig, spray, destroy.

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An ironic critique of the pastoral, neo/colonial world, tagged and captured in the 21st century.
Excellent work. The construction, sensibility and humour of the videos is outstanding. I also responded to the two works Tag and capture and Shopping for butterfly (both 2013, below).

Marcus

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Many thankx to Bett Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs and videos in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Joan Ross
The claiming of things
2012
digital animation
7 min 20 sec
edition of 10

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Joan Ross
Touching other people’s butterflies
2013
digital animation
2 min 45 sec
edition of 6

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Joan Ross. 'Mine' 2013

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Joan Ross
Mine
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
40 x 60 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'I dig your land' 2013

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Joan Ross
I dig your land
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
31 x 50 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'Lassie come home' 2013

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Joan Ross
Lassie come home
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
32 x 50 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'Tagging' 2013

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Joan Ross
Tagging
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
33.5 x 60 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'Shopping for butterfly' 2013

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Joan Ross
Shopping for butterfly
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
51.5 x 50 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'Tag and capture' 2013

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Joan Ross
Tag and capture
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
50 x 47 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'The naming of things' 2013

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Joan Ross
The naming of things
2013
hand painted pigment print on cotton rag paper
40 x 70 cm (image size)
edition of 3

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Joan Ross. 'Together we can take over the world' 2012

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Joan Ross
Together we can take over the world
2012
found ceramic and fluorescent reflector tape
50 x 24 x 20 cm (overall size)
$2,200

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Bett Galllery
369 Elizabeth Street
North Hobart Tasmania 7000
Australia
T: +61 (0) 3 6231 6511

Opening hours:
10am – 6pm Monday – Saturday
12noon – 6pm Sunday

Bett Gallery website

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26
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Pat Brassington: Quill’ at Bett Gallery, Hobart

Exhibition dates: 10 May – 31 May 2013

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Always enigmatic but slightly more accessible new work from Australia’s master of ambiguity Pat Brassington. Not that I would say that any of these images are really memorable in their own right but collectively they speak to the alienation of everyday life – alienation from Self, shadow and surroundings.

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Many thankx to Bett Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Pat Brassington. 'Blink' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Blink
2013
pigment print
72 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Candie' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Candie
2013
pigment print
60 x 44 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Deuce' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Deuce
2013
pigment print
72 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Fathoms Deep' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Fathoms Deep
2013
pigment print
72 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Masterclass' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Masterclass
2013
pigment print
72 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Matinee' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Matinee
2013
pigment print
72 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Mind Game' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Mind Game
2013
pigment print
60 x 46 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Quicksilver' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Quicksilver
2013
pigment print
60 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Shadow Boxer' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Shadow Boxer
2013
pigment print
72 x 50 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'The Guest' 2013

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Pat Brassington
The Guest
2013
pigment print
60 x 44 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Pat Brassington. 'Untitled' 2013

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Pat Brassington
Untitled
2013
pigment print, unframed
90 x 65 cm (paper size)
edition of 8

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Bett Galllery
369 Elizabeth Street
North Hobart Tasmania 7000
Australia
T: +61 (0) 3 6231 6511

Opening hours:
10am – 6pm Monday – Saturday
12noon – 6pm Sunday

Bett Gallery website

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06
May
12

Review: ‘Jane Brown / Australian Gothic’ at Edmund Pearce Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 25th April – 12th May 2012

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As you should know by now, this blog tries to promote the work of less well known artists and subject matter. So instead of concentrating on the wonderful aerial bushfire photographs of the well-known artist John Gollings (showing in the same gallery in different spaces with the work of Michael Norton) I have decided to do a posting on the exhibition Australian Gothic by Jane Brown.

This is a good exhibition of small, darkly hewn, traditionally printed silver gelatin photographs, beautifully hung in the small gallery at Edmund Pearce and lit in the requisite, ambient manner. There are some outstanding photographs in the exhibition. The strongest works are the surrealist tinged, film noir-ish mise-en-scènes, the ones that emphasise the metaphorical darkness of the elements gathered upon the stage. Photographs such as Big TroutThe Female Factory, Adelong, New South Wales and Captain’s Flat Hotel, New South Wales really invoke a feeling of unhomely (or unheimlich), where nature is out of kilter. These images unsettle our idea of Oztraliana, our perceived sense of Self and our place in the world. They disrupt normal transmission; they transmutate the seen environment, transforming appearance, nature and form. Less successful in this quest are the bushfire landscapes. I feel these add little to the narrative thread of the exhibition and could have easily been left out in a judicious cull of the photographs. This would have made the overarching story line stronger still.

One of the best photographs in the exhibition is Lathamstowe (2011, below). This dark, brooding, intense photograph is a beautifully realised visualisation, one that balances scale, tone, light, form and darkness to create a haunting image that stays with you a long time after you have seen it. This one images says it all: the artist has talent. More please!

Many thankx to Edmund Pearce Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Jane Brown
Big Trout, New South Wales
2010
Museo silver rag print
59 x 46 cm

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Jane Brown
Bushfire Landscape I
2011
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 20.5 cm

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Jane Brown
Bushfire Landscape II, Lake Mountain, Victoria
2010
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 19.5 cm

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Jane Brown
The Female Factory (convict women’s prison), Ross, Tasmania
2009
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
15.8 x 19.5 cm

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Jane Brown
Lathamstowe
2011
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 16.5 cm

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“I find it interesting how monochrome is used to differentiate the living and the dead, the past and the present. It has an ability to transcend the constraints of time, memory and death. I examine this a lot in my work – landscapes seem to have vestiges or traces of past life and memorials become otherworldly.”

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Jane Brown. Weekend Australian Review, August 2011

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“The antipodes was seen as a world of reversals, the dark subconscious of Britain. It was for all intents and purposes Gothic par excellence.”

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Gary Turcotte. “Australian Gothic,” in Marie Mulvey-Roberts (ed.), The Handbook to Gothic Literature. 1998.

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Comprising photographs taken in rural New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania, this exhibition takes its cue from the gothic imaginings of colonial Australia. We see images of a convict past, the bush Christmas, unforgiving landscapes and melancholic hotels. It carries echoes of the cinema of Wake in Fright (1971) and the Cars that Ate Paris (1974)Rendering visible the themes of the melancholic and the uncanny, Australian Gothic manifests itself in rural isolation – where the homely becomes unhomely (or unheimlich) and where nature is out of kilter.

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Jane Brown
Adelong, New South Wales
2011
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 20.5 cm

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Jane Brown
Tumbarumba, New South Wales
2012
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 19.5 cm

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Jane Brown
One Way, Hobart, Tasmania
2009
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
16.5 x 19.5 cm

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Jane Brown
Unheimlich, French Island, Victoria
2010
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
19 x 16 cm

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Jane Brown
Captain’s Flat Hotel, New South Wales
2012
Fibre based, silver gelatin print
21.5 x 17.5 cm

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Edmund Pearce Gallery
Level 2, Nicholas Building
37 Swanston Street (corner Flinders Lane)
Melbourne Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Edmund Pearce Gallery website

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21
Dec
11

melbourne’s magnificent nine 2011

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Here’s my pick of the nine best exhibitions in Melbourne (with excursions to Bendigo and Hobart thrown in) that appeared on the Art Blart blog in 2011. Enjoy!

Marcus

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1/ Sidney Nolan: Drought Photographs at Australian Galleries, Melbourne, March 2011

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Sidney Nolan
Untitled (calf carcass in tree)
1952
archival inkjet print
23.0 cm x 23.0 cm

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This was a superb exhibition of 61 black and white photographs by Sidney Nolan. The photographs were shot using a medium format camera and are printed in square format from the original 1952 negatives.

The work itself was a joy to behold. The photographs hung together like a symphony, rising and falling, with shape emphasising aspects of form. The images flowed from one to another. The formal composition of the mummified carcasses was exemplary, the resurrected animals (a horse, for example, propped up on a fifth leg) and emaciated corpses like contemporary sculpture. The handling of the tenuous aspects of human existence in this uniquely Australian landscape wass also a joy to behold. Through an intimate understanding of how to tension the space between objects within the frame Nolan’s seemingly simple but complex photographs of the landscape are previsualised by the artist in the mind’s eye before he even puts the camera to his face.

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2/ Bill Henson at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, March – April 2011

This was an exquisite exhibition by one of Australia’s preeminent artists. Like Glenn Gould playing a Bach fugue, Bill Henson is grand master in the performance of narrative, structure, composition, light and atmosphere. The exhibition featured thirteen large colour photographs printed on lustre paper (twelve horizontal and one vertical) – nine figurative of adolescent females, two of crowd scenes in front of Rembrandt paintings in The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (including the stunning photograph that features ‘The return of the prodigal son’ c. 1662 in the background, see below) and two landscapes taken off the coast of Italy. What a journey this exhibition took you on!

Henson’s photographs have been said by many to be haunting but his images are more haunted than haunting. There is an indescribable element to them (be it the pain of personal suffering, the longing for release, the yearning for lost youth or an understanding of the deprecations of age), a mesmeric quality that is not easily forgotten. The photographs form a kind of afterimage that burns into your consciousness long after the exposure to the original image has ceased. Haunted or haunting they are unforgettable.

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Bill Henson
Untitled
2009/10
CL SH767 N17B
Archival inkjet pigment print
127 x 180 cm
Edition of 5

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3/ Networks (cells & silos) at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Caulfield, February – April 2011

This was a vibrant and eclectic exhibition at MUMA, one of the best this year in Melbourne. The curator Geraldine Barlow gathered together some impressive, engaging works that were set off to good effect in the new gallery spaces. I spent a long and happy time wandering around the exhibition and came away visually satiated and intellectually stimulated. The exhibition explored “the connections between artistic representation of networks; patterns and structures found in nature; and the rapidly evolving field of network science, communications and human relations.”

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Installation photograph of one of the galleries in the exhibition NETWORKS (cells & silos) at the newly opened Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) with Nick Mangan’s Colony (2005) in the foreground

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4/ Monika Tichacek, To all my relations at Karen Woodbury Gallery, Richmond, May 2011

This was a stupendous exhibition by Monika Tichacek, at Karen Woodbury Gallery. One of the highlights of the year, this was a definite must see!

The work was glorious in it’s detail, a sensual and visual delight (make sure you click on the photographs to see the close up of the work!). The riotous, bacchanalian density of the work was balanced by a lyrical intimacy, the work exploring the life cycle and our relationship to the world in gouache, pencil & watercolour. Tichacek’s vibrant pink birds, small bugs, flowers and leaves have absolutely delicious colours. The layered and overlaid compositions show complete control by the artist: mottled, blotted, bark-like wings of butterflies meld into trees in a delicate metamorphosis; insects are blurred becoming one with the structure of flowers in a controlled effusion of life.

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Monika Tichacek
To all my relations (detail)
2011

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5/ American Dreams: 20th century photography from George Eastman House at Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria, April – July 2011

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Diane Arbus
Untitled (6)
1971

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This was a fabulous survey exhibition of the great artists of 20th century American photography, a rare chance in Australia to see such a large selection of vintage prints from some of the masters of photography. If you had a real interest in the history of photography then you hopefully saw this exhibition, showing as it is just a short hour and a half drive (or train ride) from Melbourne at Bendigo Art Gallery.

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6/ Time Machine: Sue Ford at Monash Gallery of Art, Wheelers Hill, Victoria, April – June 2011

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Sue Ford (1943–2009)
Self-portrait 1976
1976
from the series Self-portrait with camera (1960–2006)
selenium toned gelatin silver print, printed 2011
24 x 18 cm
courtesy Sue Ford Archive

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This beautifully hung exhibition flowed like music, interweaving up and down, the photographs framed in thin, black wood frames. It featured examples of Ford’s black and white fashion and street photography; a selection of work from the famous black and white Time series (being bought for their collection by the Art Gallery of New South Wales); a selection of Photographs of Women – modern prints from the Sue Ford archive that are wonderfully composed photographs with deep blacks that portray strong, independent, vulnerable, joyous women (see last four photographs below); and the most interesting work in the exhibition, the posthumous new series Self-portrait with camera (1960-2006) that evidence, through a 47 part investigation using colour prints from Polaroids, silver gelatin prints printed by the artist, prints made from original negatives and prints from scanned images where there was no negative available, a self-portrait of the artist in the process of ageing.

Whether looking down, looking toward or looking inward these fantastic photographs show a strong, independent women with a vital mind, an élan vital, a critical self-organisation and an understanding of the morphogenesis of things that will engage us for years to come. Essential looking.

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7/ The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, August 2011

My analogy: you are standing in the half-dark, your chest open, squeezing the beating heart with blood coursing between your fingers while the other hand is up your backside playing with your prostrate gland. I think ringmeister David Walsh would approve. My best friends analogy: a cross between a car park, night club, sex sauna and art gallery.

Weeks later I am still thinking about the wonderful immersive, sensory experience that is MONA. Peter Timms in an insightful article in Meanjin calls it a post-Google Wunderkammer, or wonder chest. It can be seen as a mirabilia – a non-historic installation designed primarily to delight, surprise and in this case shock. The body, sex, death and mortality are hot topics in the cultural arena and Walsh’s collection covers all bases. The collection and its display are variously hedonistic, voyeuristic, narcissistic, fetishistic pieces of theatre subsumed within the body of the spectacular museum architecture …

Spectatorship and their attendant erotics has MONA as a form of fetishistic cinema. It is as if what Barthes calls “the eroticism of place” were a modern equivalent of the eighteenth century genius loci, the “genius of the place.” The place is spectacular, the private collection writ large as public institution, the symbolic power of the institution masked through its edifice. The art become autonomous, cut free from its cultural associations, transnational, globalised, experienced through kinaesthetic means; the viewer meandering through the galleries, the anti-museum, as an international flaneur. Go. Experience!

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Corten Stairwell & Surrounding Artworks
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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8/ John Bodin: Rite of Passage at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond, August – September 2011

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John Bodin
I Was Far Away From Home
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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The photographs become the surface of the body, stitched together with lines, markers pointing the way – they are encounters with the things that we see before us but also the things that we carry inside of us. It is the interchange between these two things, how one modulates and informs the other. It is this engagement that holds our attention: the dappled light, ambiguity, unevenness, the winding path that floats and bobs before our eyes looking back at us, as we observe and are observed by the body of these landscapes.

One of the fundamental qualities of the photographs is that they escape our attempts to rationalize them and make them part of our understanding of the world, to quantify our existence in terms of materiality. I have an intimate feeling with regard to these sites of engagement. They are both once familiar and unfamiliar to us; they possess a sense of nowhereness. A sense of groundlessness and groundedness. A collapsing of near and far, looking down, looking along, a collapsing of the constructed world.

Like the road in these photographs there is no self just an infinite time that has no beginning and no end. The time before my birth, the time after my death. We are just in the world, just being somewhere. Life is just a temporary structure on the road from order to disorder. “The road is life,” writes Jack Kerouac in On the Road.

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9/ Juan Davila: The Moral Meaning of Wilderness at the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Caulfield, August – October 2011

Simply put, this was one of the best exhibitions I saw in Melbourne this year.

I had a spiritual experience with this work for the paintings promote in the human a state of grace. The non-material, the unconceptualizable, things which are outside all possibility of time and space are made visible. This happens very rarely but when it does you remember, eternally, the time and space of occurrence. I hope you had the same experience.

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Juan Davila
Wilderness
2010
© Juan Davila, Courtesy Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art

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10/ In camera and in public at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, September – October 2011

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Kohei Yoshiyuki
Untitled
1971
From the series The Park
Gelatin Silver Print
© Kohei Yoshiyuki, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

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Curated by Naomi Cass as part of the Melbourne Festival, this was a brilliant exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. The exhibition explored, “the fraught relationship between the camera and the subject: where the image is stolen, candid or where the unspoken contract between photographer and subject is broken in some way – sometimes to make art, sometimes to do something malevolent.” It examined the promiscuity of gazes in public/private space specifically looking at surveillance, voyeurism, desire, scopophilia, secret photography and self-reflexivity. It investigated the camera and its moral and physical relationship to the unsuspecting subject.

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11/ The Mad Square: Modernity in German Art 1910 – 37 at The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, November 2011 – March 2012

This is one of the best exhibitions this year in Melbourne bar none. Edgy and eclectic the work resonates with the viewer in these days of uncertainty: THIS should have been the Winter Masterpieces exhibition!

The title of the exhibition, The mad square (Der tolle Platz) is taken from Felix Nussbaum’s 1931 painting of the same name where “the ‘mad square’ is both a physical place – the city, represented in so many works in the exhibition, and a reference to the state of turbulence and tension that characterises the period.” The exhibition showcases how artists responded to modern life in Germany in the interwar years, years that were full of murder and mayhem, putsch, revolution, rampant inflation, starvation, the Great Depression and the rise of National Socialism. Portrayed is the dystopian, dark side of modernity (where people are the victims of a morally bankrupt society) as opposed to the utopian avant-garde (the prosperous, the wealthy), where new alliances emerge between art and politics, technology and the mass media. Featuring furniture, decorative arts, painting, sculpture, collage and photography in the sections World War 1 and the Revolution, Dada, Bauhaus, Constructivism and the Machine Aesthetic, Metropolis, New Objectivity and Power and Degenerate Art, it is the collages and photographs that are the strongest elements of the exhibition, particularly the photographs. What a joy they are to see.

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Albert Renger-Patzsch
Harbour with crane
c.1927
gelatin silver photograph
printed image 22.7 h x 16.8 w cm
Purchased 1983

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17
Aug
11

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart

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“Lyotard writes,”We must not begin with transgression, we must immediately go to the very end of cruelty, construct the anatomy of polymorphous perversion, unfold the immense membrane of the libidinal ‘body,’ which is quite the inverse of a system of parts.” Lyotard sees this “membrane” as composed of the most heterogeneous items: human bone and writing paper, steel and glass, syntax and the skin on the inside of the thigh. In the libidinal economy, writes Lyotard: “All of these zones are butted end to end … on a Moebius strip … a moebian skin [an] interminable band of variable geometry (a concavity is necessarily a convexity at the next turn) [with but] a single face, and therefore neither exterior nor interior.”

Jean-François Lyotard quoted in Victor Burgin. In/Different Spaces 1

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“Taking a walk is also an extremely immediate form of experience. Serge Daney describes the act of perception while taking a walk: ‘Because I am not particularly fond of bravura pieces, I always need a transition from one thing to the next. And I am glad that I can find it through by body and experience of walking…”
The visual memory of the walker/viewer determines the sequence of the pictures. Since the 1960s Marcel Broodthaers has defined the exhibition as a cinematic sequence of pictures and objects, thereby subverting the fixity of the single object through recontextualisation.”

Serge Daney quoted in Hans Obrist. “In the Midst of Things, At the Centre of Nothing.” 2

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Libidinal, Moebic MONA

My analogy: you are standing in the half-dark, your chest open, squeezing the beating heart with blood coursing between your fingers while the other hand is up your backside playing with your prostrate gland. I think ringmeister David Walsh would approve.

My best friends analogy: a cross between a car park, night club, sex sauna and art gallery.

Weeks later I am still thinking about the wonderful immersive, sensory experience that is MONA. Peter Timms in an insightful article in Meanjin calls it a post-Google Wunderkammer, or wonder chest.3 It can be seen as a mirabilia – a non-historic installation designed primarily to delight, surprise and in this case shock. The body, sex, death and mortality are hot topics in the cultural arena4 and Walsh’s collection covers all bases. The collection and its display are variously hedonistic, voyeuristic, narcissistic, fetishistic pieces of theatre subsumed within the body of the spectacular museum architecture.

The experience starts with the ferry ride from the wharf in Hobart to the museum – the only way to arrive. During the 20 minutes of the journey mental baggage seems to drop away as you look over the water to the industrial zinc works, pass under bridges and then the museum comes into view. Perched on a promontory of land the museum rises like a rusted ancient temple. After disembarking you climb a colossal staircase to the entrance of the museum, all angles and mirrored surfaces. You enter one of two Roy Grounds listed modernist buildings built in the 1950s – beautiful, crisp white spaces that house the shop and a cafe, cloakroom and inquiry desk where you collect your ‘O’, an iPhone-like device that tracks all the artworks that you look at. The are no didactic text panels in the museum freeing the viewer to just experience, all data such as artists names and educational information and the tit-bit Gonzo text being accessed through the ‘O’. Into the large enclosed forecourt space a spiral staircase with a circular lift in the centre descends into the abyss (an inspired piece of design) and your journey proper has begun. Three levels deep into the ground you travel, the space carved out of solid rock. Impressive.

The museum is the body and the artworks are the organs, fragments of the whole exhibition (that of the actual museum). The experience is very kinaesthetic as the body gets lost within the space of the gallery. We wandered like flaneurs among the darkened, cinema-like spaces, almost floating from one area to the next, discovering, feeling disorientated, following underground passages, tunnels and stairs, emerging into light and then descending into the abyss again. Hours passed. Like a Moebius strip there seemed to be no interior/exterior to the body. As Lyotard notes the membrane of the libidinal ‘body’ is composed of the most heterogeneous items: here was rock, steel, shit, bestiality, intestines, brain, touch, burial etc… the curating of the collection within the space “creating a safe space for the appreciation and consideration of seemingly extreme and subversive practices.”5

Into this space of controlled transgression, the carnivalesque mise-en-scène allow the artists to delve into the deeper and darker areas of the human condition: “as Anthony Everitt once said of Damien Hirst [to] ‘open up paths for the viewer into areas of experience which are not anti-moral or amoral but extra-moral… a world where bad taste is driven to the point of elegance and disgust is filtered into delight’.”6

While some of the works were spotlit in the darkened galleries, “this dramatic lighting working to decontextualize the art objects, evoking a crepuscular and “timeless” sense of space, out of which the individual pieces emerged,”7 there also seemed to be an affinity between the building itself and the artworks (relating to the concept of affinity in museum curation). The diversity of installation techniques made an acknowledgement of the institutionalizing processes part of the viewer’s experience of the show, disrupting a unified, totalizing presentation of these objects and their cultures as “exhibition.”8 The intertextual tableaux mixed a Damien Hirst spin painting with Egyptian sculpture, ancient artefacts with Fat Cars. The context of the objects and their relationship to each other and the architecture is how the works are “framed.” This device emphasises the aesthetic rather than information and encourages the viewer to think about the relationship between the artefacts, objects and contemporary works. These inventive arrangements create a meta-narrative that offers the possibility of multiple interpretations to the viewer, multiple truths. All of this undertaken as the body moves through the spaces of the gallery and gets “lost”. As Norman Bryson has observed, “Architecture is sensed primarily through the eye and through bodily movement, and these sensations also play a key role in the way in which the contents of museums make their impact.”9

While the items are not explicitly related in terms of subject, medium or style through unexpected confrontation the works spring to dissonant life. Most of the time. When this process doesn’t work the viewer is left a little flat feeling, and…. so? wandering from piece to piece becoming slightly disenchanted. Little of the work at MONA took me to new spaces; in fact some of it was pretty mediocre, including the very dated Sir Sidney Nolan Snake (1970 to 1972, see below) that is permanent ‘wallpaper’ and takes up a whole, beautiful gallery wall. The tri-screen video by Russian collective AES+F, the works by Anselm Kiefer and the ancient artefacts (most of all) were notable exceptions. The museum is not a place for prolonged concentration and contemplation. This is not really the point of the place. The whole museum is a sensory, immersive surprising experience that cannot be broken down to its parts. David Walsh’s collection does tick all the fashionable boxes: here a Juan Davila, there a Del Kathyrn Barton, now a Howard Arkeley as though his buyers have advised him on just what to buy, but it is his personal vision, his collection. You can’t argue with that.

On of the problems of lumping all of these works together is obvious: “Ancient objects whose meaning is lost to us, medieval utensils, Christian religious images, and art objects made by modern masters were reduced to one meaning – stylistic resemblances providing evidence of the essential nature of humanity.”10 In other words a return to the globalizing view of humanity evidenced by Edward Steichen’s MOMA world touring photographic exhibition of the 1950s ‘The Family of Man’. Conversely, when this strategy works well it promotes for the viewer different modes and levels of ‘interpretation’ through subtle juxtaposition of ‘experience’. As Emma Barker has observed, “we still need a curator to stimulate readings of the collection and to establish those ‘climatic zones’ which can enrich our appreciation and understanding of art… Our aim must be to generate a condition in which visitors can experience a sense of discovery in looking at particular paintings, sculptures or installations in a particular room at a particular moment, rather than find themselves standing on the conveyer belt of history.”11 Within this plastic space experience is paramount, allowing the viewer to develop their own reading without relying on the curatorial interpretation of history, setting new parameters for the relationship between viewer and object. As Barker notes such juxtapositions are a more natural strategy for a private collector than for a museum curator, with exhibitions and displays according to this dialectical principle happening with more frequency.12 The museum looses its fundamental didactic, educational purpose.

Other problems may also become evident. In a museum whose spectacular architecture was specifically designed for David Walsh’s collection it will be interesting to see how outside, touring exhibitions (such as the recently installed Experimenta Utopia Now exhibition) display in the space, especially given the psychosexual nature of his collection and its relationship to the building. If the quality of the temporary exhibitions is overwhelmed by the architecture, if the labyrinthine, enigmatic and layered nature of the space (all those floating bridges and the huge Void that can be seen in the photographs below) engulfs lesser works then it may well fall very flat.

At the end of the day we emerged into the afternoon light, expelled from the museum in a tidal wave of humanity, exhausted, satiated. Where else in Australia could you spend all day at a museum and not have seen enough? On flying home you can log into the MONA website to retrieve your ‘O’ tour, to see what art you liked and what you didn’t; what pieces you saw and all those that somehow you missed! The physical and its remembrance transported into the virtual.

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Since Laura Mulvey’s essay of 1974 “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” we have been aware of the voyeuristic and fetishistic character of our psychosexual relation to cinema. Engulfed in the dark cube, that psychosexual panorama, the cinematic labyrinth that is MONA has the viewer absenting themselves in front of the art in favour of the Eye and the Spectator.13 Spectatorship and their attendant erotics has MONA as a form of fetishistic cinema. It is as if what Barthes calls “the eroticism of place” were a modern equivalent of the eighteenth century genius loci, the “genius of the place.”
The place is spectacular, the private collection writ large as public institution, the symbolic power of the institution masked through its edifice. The art become autonomous, cut free from its cultural associations, transnational, globalised, experienced through kinaesthetic means; the viewer meandering through the galleries, the anti-museum, as an international flaneur. Go. Experience!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to Delia Nicholls for all her help and to MONA for allowing me to publish most of the photographs in the posting (all except the top two and the one of us inside Babylonia that were taken by Fredrick White). Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Zinc works from the ferry on the way to MONA

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MONA exterior, Hobart

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3d schematic from the O, showing the levels and nodes indicating art works visited, MONA

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The Void
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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B1 walkway overlooking The Void
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Loop System Quintet/Untitled (stool for guard)

Left:
Taiyo Kimura (Kamakura, Japan, 1970)
Untitled (stool for guard)
2007
Mixed media, clothes, cd player, speaker

Right:
Conrad Shawcross (London, England, 1977)
Loop System Quintet

2005
Waxed machined oak, five light bulbs, electric motor and gearbox, drive shafts, cogs, universal joints, flange units, screws, bolts, nuts, washers

Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Callum Morton (Montreal, Canada, 1965)
Babylonia
2005
Wood, polystyrene, epoxy resin, acrylic paint, light, carpet, mirror and sound
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael 
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Sculptor Fredrick White and myself inside Callum Morton’s Babylonia wearing the ‘O’

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Portrait gallery
Various artworks by various artists
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Masturbation. It is a source of endless irony to me that when I was young, and desperately in need of endless fucking, no one was interested in helping me out, whereas now, older and slower, I could fill even my desired adolescent quota. What saved me then was my right hand, even though I call myself left-handed. Surely the hand that you wank with (I guess John Holmes was ambidextrous) defines you just as much as the hand you write with? Anyway, who writes anymore? It’s so much easier to type. Mental masturbation allows me to pretend I’m a mental John Holmes, takes both hands. But no brains.

Art. I’m not at all sure that conceptual art and traditional art are the same thing. One can come from muscle memory, from pragma; at its best it’s not at all conscious. The former, though, is so self-aware it’s often targeting its own self-awareness. Check out the Hirst and the Pylypchuk at the other end of the gallery.

David Walsh 2011

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Corten Stairwell
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Corten Stairwell & Surrounding Artworks
February 2011
Museum of Old and New Art – interior
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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The Nolan Gallery

Sir Sidney Nolan (Carlton, Victoria, Australia, 1917-1992)
Snake
1970 to 1972
Mixed media on paper, 1620 sheets

Jannis Kounellis (Piraeus, Greece, 1936)
Untitled

2002
Jute coffee bags, coal; three parts

Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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Erwin Wurm (Bruck an der Mur, Austria, 1954)
Fat Car
2006
Steel chassis and body; leather interior, with polystyrene and fibreglass
Photo credit: MONA/Leigh Carmichael
Image Courtesy of MONA Museum of Old and New Art

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1. Lyotard, Jean-François. Économie Libidinale. Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1974, pp.10-11 quoted in Burgin, Victor. In/Different Spaces: Place and Memory in Visual Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995, p.150.

2. Obrist, Hans Ulrich. “In the Midst of Things at the Center of Nothing,” in Harding, Anna (ed.,). Curating: The Contemporary Museum and Beyond, (Art & Design Magazine Profile No. 52), London: A.D., 1997, p.88.

3. Timms, Peter. “A Post-google Wunderkammer: Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art Redefines the Genre,” in Meanjin, Vol. 70, No. 2, Winter 2011. pp.31-39.

4. Keidan, Lois. “Showtime: Curating Live Art  in the 90s,” in Harding, Anna (ed.,). Curating: The Contemporary Museum and Beyond, (Art & Design Magazine Profile No. 52), London: A.D., 1997, p.41.

5. Ibid., p.41.

6. Ibid., p.41.

7. Staniszewski, Mary Anne. The power of display: a history of exhibition installations at the Museum of Modern Art. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1998, p.84.

8. Ibid., p.97.

9. Bryson, Norman. “A Walk for a Walk’s Sake,” in De Zegher, Catherine (ed.,). The Stage of Drawing: Gesture and Act. London: Tate, 2003, pp.149-58.

10. Staniszewski, op. cit. p.129.

11. Barker, Emma. “Exhibiting the Canon: The Blockbuster Show,” in Barker, Emma (ed.,). Contemporary Cultures of Display. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999, p.55.

12. Ibid., p.45.

13. O’Neill, Paul. “The Curatorial Turn: From Practice to Discourse,” in Rugg, Judith and Sedgwick, Michèle (eds.,). Issues in Curating Contemporary Art and Performance. Bristol: Intellect, 2007, pp.13-28.

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Museum of Old and New Art
655 Main Road Berriedale
Hobart Tasmania 7011, Australia

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 6pm

MONA website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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