I was at the cinemas today for a bit of a treat, and one of the advertisements before the movie was a reel for the Museum of Old and New Art (aka the MONA) in Hobart.
It consisted of quoting the one star reviews which the MONA has received. One, featuring a tear rolling down the cheek of the purported reviewer, read “I paid to see a machine take a dump.”
The MONA is probably the biggest tourist attraction to hit Hobart since the Van Diemonians (I call them that in this context to draw attention to their convict legacy) opened Australia’s first casino at Wrest Point some 50 years ago.
The MONA enjoys great hype, which, to my mind, is a bit reminiscent of the fairytale about the Emperor’s New Clothes.
I visited the MONA three years ago, on my first proper holiday in Hobart in many years, and whilst I am not the sort of person who posts (or reads) reviews online, I would be more inclined to give it one star than five. I would say that the best thing about it is the ferry ride from Hobart down the Derwent River (the ferry ride back is more subdued because it is full of disappointed mug punters).
In terms of the art inside, I think that the only piece I enjoyed was one Sydney Nolan. Everything else was either obscure and boring, or avante-garde in a way which is not aesthetically pleasing.
But this advertising campaign is definitely in the spirt of the MONA. It is a Tassie-larikin practical joke on mainlanders and foreign tourists (Taswegians do not always distinguish between the two) who have to pay to get in (Taswegians get free admission). Or it is itself one giant conceptual artwork – one giant performance aimed at those of us who take itself too seriously.
So I can chuckle at the MONA’s cheeky and honest advertising campaign.
But I won’t be going back to the MONA. I won’t be fooled twice.