What is art?

MONA is a relatively new private art gallery and museum in Hobart, Tasmania.

Created by David Walsh who made his fortune from gambling.

Wikipedia describes him as: “A university drop-out and autodidact with mathematical skills. Walsh made his fortune by developing a technical gambling system used to bet on horse racing and other sports globally”.

However he would prefer you to read this piece from the gallery website:

“The locals have started calling him ‘Dave’ (‘Hey, that’s Dave Walsh. Dave! Oi, Dave!’) but in fact his mother named him Glenn. Then she found God and changed it to David. It is estimated that at least one woman has been turned off dating David when she found out his real name was Glenn. As a result (of ambivalent relationships with women? of his changing name? of God?) he decided to build a museum”.

MONA is an eclectic collection of old and new art; hence the name is an acronym for the Museum of Old and New Art.

Neolithic flints and Egyptian mummies are mixed with confronting video installations and puzzling art in all mediums. There is even a poo-generating machine titled ‘Cloaca Professional’ by Wim Delvoye, (Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium).

What is almost as intriguing as the art is the use of computer technology.

Every visitor receives an iPod on entry; this is your gallery guide. There are no descriptions on the art work, so if you are interested in a piece you read about it, or listen to it, on the iPod.

This description gives you the usual stuff, like who did it and when but it also has other sections, like interview with the artists and a section called Art Wank. This is what you would normally read on a traditional gallery wall. Some also had Gonzo, a section, usually written by David Walsh that gives less intellectual and more introspective thoughts and comments on what you are viewing.

You can also cast your opinion on what you see as you travel through the exhibition. Rumor has it that David Walsh will remove any exhibit that becomes too popular.

There are things there that you just look at. I guess that’s the museum side and then there are a lot of other pieces that make you stop, scratch your head and think.

There is even a public toilet that literally let’s you see what you are doing.

But is that art? Certainly Wim Delvoye, (Born 1965, Wervik, Belgium; lives and works in Ghent, Belgium) thinks it is.


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