Indagare contributor Tiffany Schauer traveled to Tasmania for the opening of the Red Queen Exhibition at the Museum of Old and New Art, and attended a festival in conjunction with the event. Here are her impressions from the trip.
The Museum of Old and New Art (61 3 6377 9971; www.mona.net.au) seems out of another universe—an elegant Shangri La on the grounds of the Moorilla Winery (www.moorilla.com.au) in Hobart, Tasmania. The museum (also home to a hotel) features David Walsh’s personal collection and has an underground tunnel connecting the galleries. Built into the ground, the museum recedes into the earth with Triassic sandstone walls. Walsh once described it as Disneyland for adults, and with a bar and a trampoline that plays music according to the jumper’s rhythm, the MONA is just that.
MONA pavilions are the luxury guest apartments on the grounds of the museum complex. The high-tech rooms feature an organic mini-bar, spacious bathrooms and views of the Derwent River. A nice bonus: pavilion guests have free (and sometimes private) access to the museum. The resident restaurant is a culinary delight, with fresh produce and inventive courses. I particularly enjoyed a dish of sautéed green beans, figs and almonds with almond milk foam. After dinner, I took an impromptu walk through the museum, an exciting adventure to say the least.
Opening night of the Red Queen Exhibit was an eclectic extravaganza with Ping-Pong tables and trampolines. A response to the question Is art part of a broader evolutionary imperative?, the exhibition presents ancient artifacts alongside historical and modern works. It is thoughtful and provocative, and not to be missed.
The festival I attended features myriad art installations, as well as theatrical performances, film showings and late night extravaganzas. One of the first exhibitions was the Ian Burns “Afloat Asunder” installation—a thought-provoking construction of filament and mirrors, and the perfect way to kick off the festival. After admiring this exhibit, I attended a Martha Wainwright concert at Hobart’s Royal Theater (61 3 6233 2299; www.theatreroyal.com.au), an elegant auditorium evocative of Marie Antoinette-era opulence, followed by a late dinner at lovely pizzeria Da Angelo Ristorante (61 3 6223 7011; www.daangelo.com/molise).
One day, I joined friends for lunch at Ethos (61 3 6231 1165; www.ethoseatdrink.com) in downtown Hobart. The restaurant, built on the plot once home to the Old Hobart Hotel, reflects the varied history of the location including decorative artifacts from when it functioned as an apothecary! The menu is carefully planned, offering locally sourced food and wine, and the interior is cozy and romantic.
Particularly beautiful as the sun set was Ryoji Ikeda’s outdoor light installation, Spectra. Forty-nine searchlights were installed in the ground, sending a rectangular beam of light endlessly upwards, closely resembling an illuminated skyscraper. Any movement alters the piece, which was particularly active on a stormy night.
Another night, the Royal Theater hosted the premiere of Vandemonian Lags, a musical about 17 criminals sent to Tasmania in the 1800’s. The lively performance takes from a number of genres; I was reminded of both a Broadway play and a pop music video. It was a hoot, but also a fun history of Tasmania’s role in developing early prison models.
A few nights later, I attended the “Red Queen’s Patron Feast” in honor of the new exhibit. Hosted by the glamorous art curator Kirsha Kaechle, it was truly an all-out feast, with hors d’oeurvres on a roulette wheel and heaping pots of fondue. Dinner was a theatrical display, with grass-covered tables reaching heights of 12 feet, requiring some guests to climb ladders to their seats.