Saturday, September 20, 2014

MONA day

Today was our designated MONA day, something we have been looking forward to for years. When we were in Australia in 2011 many people told us that we HAD to see this museum. There was also a profile article in the New Yorker magazine about its founder (aka God), David Walsh. So finally we got to cross this one off our bucket list!

Everyone said to be sure to arrive by ferry, so we did, chugging up the Derwent River for about 1/2 hour on a ferry boat decorated to the hilt with graffiti, a herd of fake sheep on the upper deck, a reclining Grecian couch slung across the front bow, and a life-size white cow near the sheep herd. One can opt for riding in the Posh Pit, where champagne flows freely along with tasty bites of lots of hors d'ouvres. We opted for traveling with the hoi polloi, minus all the frills.

The Derwent is a broad river with low hills on either side, and occasional golden sandstone rock cliffs. Arrival at the MONA begins with climbing 99 steps up a hillside, and then entering the ground level of this place. The museum is actually dug out of the rock and goes 4 floors underground into a cavernous space with golden stone walls and long passageways opening into various exhibition spaces. They encourage you to begin at the bottom level and slowly work your way up. We allowed all day to see this place, and mostly we needed it.

Everything is calculated for drama, shock value, and the unexpected. Even the bathrooms are works of art, small private rooms, each one different. One had movies projecting onto the floor. One had a set of mirrors set up to reflect your crotch area in startling display. One produced strange and unsettling sounds and noises. We wanted to explore them all, but could not manage it.

The whole place is the creation of David Walsh. The art work goes from the sublime to the ridiculous to the disgusting to the embarrassing to the inscrutable and many other places along the way. One of our favorites was a high stone wall with something like a long, horizontal shower fixture across the top. Water was released in continuous bursts and each time it spelled out a word in water drops. Magical.

There was a Fat Car, a Porsche, built to look fat all over including the seats. There were hundreds of plaster casts of vaginas, all different, lined up in rows along the walls. There was a room called the Cloaca where a row of tubes and glass beakers were simulating human digestion, getting fed human food at the beginning, then creating poop at the end of the process. The room smelled horrible, and the whole museum was full of unpleasant music and noise, played at big volume. It was fascinating and overwhelming. We had to take numerous breaks and then plunge back in. Fortunately there are caf├ęs, eateries, even a winery out there, and a glorious outdoor area for wandering and sitting to regroup.

We finally took the ferry back to Hobart, wandered around the city for awhile,and eventually ended walking all the way back to the cottage which took at least an hour, maybe more, but was great for warming up and getting exercise. Margaret has gone back to Bruny Island, generously leaving us alone in her house for a few days. We are very happy and comfortable and excited to be here!

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Location:MUseum of old and New Arts, Hobart, Tasmania

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