April 2024

The Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania

The Photography of Jon Rendell

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, Tasmania, stands as a beacon of artistic innovation and controversy, captivating visitors with its eclectic blend of ancient artifacts, contemporary artworks, and immersive experiences. Founded by entrepreneur David Walsh in 2011, MONA has redefined the traditional museum experience, offering a journey into the depths of human creativity and expression.

Located within a sprawling complex carved into the sandstone cliffs along the Derwent River, MONA's architecture is as intriguing as its contents. Visitors descend into the museum through a spiraling staircase or a ferry ride across the river, setting the stage for an immersive exploration of art and culture. The subterranean galleries, designed to evoke a sense of discovery and mystery, feature dimly lit spaces that enhance the ambiance of each exhibit.

Cavern entrance to the ground floor of the museum
MONA's collection is as diverse as it is provocative, showcasing a wide array of artworks spanning millennia and mediums. From ancient Egyptian mummies to contemporary installations that push the boundaries of artistic expression, every corner of the museum invites contemplation and conversation. Perhaps one of the most unusual artworks at MONA, "Cloaca Professional" by Wim Delvoye is a fully functional machine that mimics the human digestive system. Designed to consume food and produce waste, this mechanical marvel blurs the line between art and science, inviting viewers to contemplate the nature of consumption and waste.

Despite its relatively short existence, MONA has firmly established itself as a must-see destination for art enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. Its bold vision, uncompromising curation, and commitment to pushing boundaries have earned it a place among the world's most innovative cultural institutions, ensuring that its legacy will endure for generations to come.

Leaving downtown Hobart behind on the 30 minute ferrry ride to the Museum.

Alighting the ferry

Bit.fall, by German artist Julius Popp, is a two-story pulsing waterfall of 128 computer -controlled nozzles that briefly drip a display of words streamed from real-time Google searches. Words include "climate”, "Barnaby", "terrorism" and "Pell”.

A couple off to the pearly gates.
The current blockbuster exhibition is 'Heavenly Beings: Icons of the Orthodox Christian World’

Deep in the museum’s cavernous underbelly sits Wim Delvoye’s cloaca machine, otherwise known as “the shit machine.”
The Belgium artist’s vast array of whirring tubes and bags mimic the workings of the human digestive system. The apparatus is fed food and produces poo.

Wilfredo Prieto’s "White Library”

The raw stone walls of the cavernous chamber dramatically frame the white-washed wooden bones of a Qing dynasty house (Ai Weiwei’s 2015 White House) that tiptoes on crystal balls (see below).

Detail crystal ball, Ai Weiwei

The corten staircases at MONA contribute to the museum's distinctive character and provide visitors with an immersive experience that extends beyond the artworks on display.


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Jon Rendell was born into an auteur/photog family in Melbourne, Australia, in 1957 and grew up around cameras and film. He honed his craft under renowned photographer Athol Shmith at what is now Swinburne University (Prahran Campus, Melbourne). He was always captivated by shadows and finds himself hard-wired to focusing on the transitory, abstract shapes that come and go with the available light. For more of his photography in Scene4, check the Archives.

©2024 Jon Rendell
©2024 Publication Scene4 Magazine



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