63. Sex and Death Are on Display at The Museum of Old and New Art
Welcome to museum. Archipelago. I'm Ian Elsner. Museum archipelago guides you through the rocky landscape of museums. Each episode is never longer than fifteen minutes. So let's get started museums on the Australian island of Tasmania are a microcosm of museums all around the world. They struggle with properly interpreting their colonial past the exclusion of first peoples from telling their own stories in major museums, and having a large privately owned art museum reshape small town, this month on museum archipelago. We're taking you to Tasmania over the course of three episodes were conducting a survey of museums on the island and exploring how each of them relates to the wider landscape of museums today, we visit the museum of old, and new art in Hobart Tasmania, Australia. It's known as Muna and it's by far the largest museum in Tasmania now the only by square footage. It's in fact, the largest privately owned art museum in the southern hemisphere, but also by its influence on your often on ABC radio Hobart and across Tasmania, we'll hosting an international podcast about. Museums. Would you spend your precious travel dollas to record? That's Helen shield, host of terrestrial broadcast radio program in Tasmania is one obvious enters. She's a Hobart local and she interviewed me about this series. Listen to how she describes the way that Mona shapes the island eight it wouldn't be a trip to Tasmania these days without stopping on one particular museum, which is single handedly changed tourism. And prominent international reputation of his island stopping at Marna Mona often called the museum of Saxon death opened in buried Dale a suburb of Hobart in twenty eleven the building on the Norris. Bunker out on the peninsula. Overlooking a river, sneaks up on you, as you approach once you're inside through a rather small, entrance that whisks you on the ground. The architecture is designed to make you feel lost. There are no signs or directions. So you have to choose your own route the maze, like paths split in two with no indication of which way you should take. Other than which one might seem more attractive to you, tunnels and stairs. Which won't always move you up or down by one story are another an escape from the disorienting experience. Instead, they might lead you to a tight claustrophobic chamber a lovely cafe. Overlooking the water or another massive previously undiscovered subterranean open space. I don't think people expected it to have such an impact. It's kind of a lair their villainous. This is being co Blackhall a Hobart based musician, whose watched Mona reshape the creative community and the art landscape of the island. My name is Shanghai black. Oh, I live in Tasmania. I'm twenty seven and I'm a musician among other things. The museum is the product of Tasmanian millionaire and art. Collector David Walsh Walsh made his fortune by gambling. And Blackhall says that he is a much talked about figure in Hobart. He he'd be an interesting guests. Jintai boo. Who's quite unusual in his manner, and he'd fight. He's money through gambling, and who's good with numbers in his introduction to one of Mona's past exhibits Walsh, recalled spending, a lot of time in Hobart, smu's Zia, GMs as a teenager. And apparently he's to get dropped off by his parents in town at the museums and Easter just walk around the day as a kid, and then become up again at the not on come home. 'cause navy was annoying them or whatever at home as a kid with a name like the museum of old, and new art Mona could pretty much include any type of art, but looking at the collection, it's clear that David Walsh has a fascination with sex, and death and bets that the rest of us do too, and it turns out, he's right. Social animals like us love thinking about fucking and dying and excretion and wrought Walsh, himself calls. Mona a subversive adult Disneyland. There's the holy virgin. Mary, a painting created and part with elevate. Int- deng. There's on the road to heaven, the highway to hell in which the remains of a suicide bomber cast in dark chocolate, there dead horses, and rotting festering wounds with swarming bugs encased in acrylic, there's audio animatronic skeletons fucking, there's a digestive machine that turns food into feces and stinks up an entire gallery, the art tries to punch you in the gut, and mostly succeeds in part because there aren't any descriptive. Plaques telling you what's important about the art or how to feel about it. I say I'd never seen anything like it really something. And these from someone who worked scene, and spent his free time exploring mediums, so often we are in neom. World were very stressed out by the labeling. We spend hours and hours thinking about what the labels and placard look like next to a piece of armour. And so it was really refreshing Winston understanding, no labels at all. He normally. Clinical music copulating and they're enjoying it. Always removing feeling from the equation like go objectively this is this. But moving on your only guide to the museum is it's inhouse app called the oh, the oh, will provide some interpretation of the art, but that interpretation is hidden away in a little tab, called art wink, which has the icon of a penis. It's delightful to see art off the pedestal. But Blackhall says that that levity might also make it easier for the artists. I think it's a very uncomfortable thing to be asked to explain please explain know as pulling Hansen says, and it's like, oh. How do I say this stuff without being twit gets almost like they've made the unconventional the everyday, you know? And sometimes you wonder around there and they'll be people in smokes getting about. And you might y you know, these these odd smokes. I'm not sure you know what's happening. But it so it's like now it's a pot of your every day, do you think for Tasmanians that there's a certain amount of pride that it's here? Definitely, I think people have welcomed with open arms almost, and the way people talk about you here. You know, wherever you are the art minor. Yup up. Very good. You know, lacking kind of very gruff way. But like all. Yep. Very good going to go down to the bone fire with the kids, you know. And it's good. Mona has also been well received by art critics and by tourists visiting from outside Tasmania as a new destination on the global art tourism circuit. There's no doubt that the museum has changed Hobart a city of a quarter of a million people. I feel like it. Partly began with minor this. You know, Sarah NHS is tourism like feel like where in the I you know, that it's, it's watching us the world is going that Lyon there and it really in the last year. Oh, two, you can feel the new foot traffic you can really feel it and it's a little bit at I don't know if actually quite got the infrastructure for the amount that we of tourists that we now have luckily, moaner, I think, took responsibility for itself. But yeah, you can definitely feel the on the, you know, we have cruise ships, not coming in and out sometimes their cruise ship traffic jams, whether I have to white and the by for the other one to leave before they come in, and yet, it's changed rapidly in a very short space of time, quite shocking, even with the crowds of people visiting it's hard. Not to feel alone in the space as if you're the only one experiencing the art, the museum also hosts solstice festivals, which I'm told transformed the town with musical performances and large public art. Installations, eight slang having access to the blow like it feels that you've you've got an, you have an insight into this world that you would have never been apart of had you lived somewhere else. My lasting impression is that Mona is a monument to a kind of joyful secularism in the world where monuments don't feel particularly secular or joyful, the feeling of visiting is a little like launching confetti Popper in the serious place of worship and getting away with it. It is in short life, affirming. A very special thanks to the newest members of club archipelago, Sean Blinn, Blair Chisholm, Victoria, capacity. And Alex, join them to support the show and get access to special bonus features like longer versions of some of my interviews. My take on the museum industry, an inside a tours of museums all around the world all with the same humor and quality you've come to expect from us. Eum archipelago. Join today for two dollars a month on patriot dot com slash museum archipelago and get museum archipelago logo stickers mailed straight to your door. That's patriot dot com slash museum archipelago to join club archipelago. You can find more about being co Blackhall by searching for being a black hole music on Facebook and Instagram. This has been museum archipelago. You'll find a full transcript of this episode along with show notes at museum, archipelago dot com. If this is your first show, don't forget to subscribe for free in your favorite podcast player. Thanks for listening and next time. Bring a friend in ELS nine Boston. Find museum archipelago move you get your podcast. I've listened.