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The Museum of Everything at MONA, Tasmania

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until April 2, 2018

With over 100 self-taught artists and almost 2,000 artworks, dating from 1800 to the present day, this is The Museum of Everything’s most expansive show to date and the largest international exhibition of non-academic art ever staged in Australia. Paintings and drawings are juxtaposed with sculptures, objects and furniture. Artists include Victor Kulikov, Paul Laffoley, Adolf Wölfli, Karl Junker, George Widener, Judith Scott and Henry Darger.

Text reproduced from https://mona.net.au:

These artists don’t have degrees, but they might have visions or compulsions; they are transcendent scientists, self-taught architects, and citizen inventors; sometimes, they are dedicated followers of personal belief systems, or producing art from inside a hospital or prison. Some create their own visual folklore to sit alongside (or challenge) established histories of culture and place. ‘Our museum stretches, I hope, the possibility of who has the right to be considered an artist,’ says founder James Brett. But of course, not everybody is an artist. The collection is comprised of the passionate fringe, the outliers who concentrate the human propensity to make and create. They are simultaneously different, because that kind of intensity and ability is not available to us all (and especially not in the absence of the usual art-world rewards, such as money and cultural cachet), and yet they are also somehow the same, more familiar to us than the big art-world names will ever be.

What you will find, when you come, is a jolly fine collection, cor blimey, of drawings, paintings, sculptures, photography, environments and assemblies. There will be wondrous samples of the Art Brut / Outsider Art canon (oh, the irony) as well as the ‘newly discovered’ (as our British imperial overlords would have it), alongside work from studios for artists with disabilities. We’re excited. This stuff matters, in a social-justice sense and in an art-lovers sense (we’ve been missing out!). But also, we empathise — being from Tassie and all — with the whole outsider/insider thing. Specifically, the problem: what happens when the outsider becomes the institution; the exception, the rule? Is it even a problem?

Both our museums—that of Everything, and of Old and New Art — want to learn, in the most human of ways: by doing. ‘The hand is the cutting edge of the mind,’ says Joseph Bronowski. Art, in the end, is a behaviour, something we can’t help but do — or at least, it should be. The best way to test its mettle is to clear away the extra stuff, the art-world beatifications, the labels and classifications, to see what’s left. You might just find it’s everything.

MONA (Museum of Old and New Art)
655 Main Road Berriedale, Hobart Tasmania 7011, Australia
mona.net.au