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I seem to have a grudge against sleep this week. All Tomorrow's Parties last weekend. Einstürzende Neubauten on Tuesday night. And last night we were out until 4am at White Night Melbourne.

I am very tired and my feet are very sore. But we had a blast. The city was transformed last night, and it was magical.

White Night is an international network of all-night public arts festivals. It started in Paris in 2002, and I'll stop boring you now because you can read a history page as well as I can.

We got into town around 9:00 pm, and Swanston Street was packed. I suspect the organisers had no idea how popular it would be. People were saying the crowds were bigger than at New Years Eve. We bumped into our friend Sayraphim, who was running The Whispering Society, on the steps of the town hall. She had expected maybe 150-200 people to play the game over the course of the night. Instead, they had had over a thousand players.

We missed a few things we wanted to see because the queues were too long, or it was just to hard to move through the crowds. But overall it was fantastic night.

Long winded list of everything we saw. Or you can skip to video at the end. )

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Back from Tasmania.

We went down last Wednesday to visit MONA - the Museum of Old and New Art. It opened in Hobart at the start of the year (A. was working at the FOMA music festival that accompanied the opening.)

MONA is a private museum. All the artwork is owned by one person, David Walsh. Walsh is a Tasmanian who made millions from gambling, and decided the best way to spend all his money was free music festivals and to build a whopping great big art museum.

Walsh describes MONA as an adult Disneyland.

I would describe it as bugfuck insane. And astonishing. And essential.

Here's why... )

On the ferry back, we got talking to another couple. They said they would have travelled across the world to see this gallery. They said it was better than the Guggenheim in New York.

If you have any interest in modern art, you need to see it.

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My initial list of 5 Comedy Festival shows has blown out to about 13. I've lost count. Reviews to follow at some stage, long after they might have been useful to anyone. Hannah Gadsby has unexpectedly turned out to be one of my favourites this year. A lot of the other shows I've seen have felt like a solid 45 minutes of material stretched thin to fill an hour show.

A. and I finally managed to see the Bill Henson exhibition at Tolarno Galleries yesterday, on its final day. Very glad we did. Bodies, landscapes, and gallery patrons dissolving into the sublime. His use of light is exquisite: corpse-blue nudes hit with sparks of fire-red.

A. and I have had a project accepted as part of the Emerging Writer's Festival EWFdigital programme. I'll post more details closer to the launch, but the basic ideas is a series of urban fantasy micro-stories inspired by photographs of Melbourne.

We went to a wedding yesterday, for our dear friends Alex and Berni. It was a beautiful ceremony amongst the ferns in the Fitzroy Gardens Conservatory. Afterwards there was the reception at Deck Ten, looking down over the city. And after that, we went to the Festival Club.

Technically I woke up today at about 9:30. But I've spent most of the day staring blankly into the middle distance. I was going to go see some more late shows tonight, but I think I'd rather be a functional human being. An early night and a productive day tomorrow sounds lie a plan.

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I took yesterday off work so we could go see the Ron Mueck exhibition at the National Gallery Victoria.

Mueck is sculptor who creates hyperrealistic statues of people, mostly nude. And he plays with scale: the scupluters are tiny, or huge. The work that made him famous was Dead Dad, a three foot long scuplture of his father lying naked and dead on the floor. The exhibition also includes Wild man, a nine foot tall bearded giant perched on a wooden stool the size of a table, and A girl, a 5 metre long newborn infant.

The photos I'd seen of his work made them all look kind of creepy.

But in the flesh (so to speak), the first thing that struck me was how dream-like these sculptures were. There's an Alice In Wonderland quality about them and their sizes.

The second thing you notice is the detail. Every skin crease, every blemish, every hair is there. The detail on these sculptures is astonishing.

And then, after the obvious, the third and most important thing I noticed about these sculptures is how vulnerable and how endearing they are. The wild man looks shy and self-concious, as if he'd like to go back outside now, please. The Dead Dad is so small and fragile. One of my favourites of the works displayed, Man in a boat, features a naked middle aged man peering with keen curiousity out from his rowboat.

There's so much character and expression in the faces of these works, you can't help imagining stories about them. The catalogue even mentions that Mueck doesn't like his works to be displayed too close together, because it creates unintended narratives between them.

What Mueck's insane detail and wild distortions of scale ultimately reveal isn't the weirdness of these figures - it's their simple humanity.

This is a small exhibition, with only a dozen works. But it's utterly fantastic. I definitely recommend it.

(If you're going, try and go early in the day, before the crowds get too thick. That way you can appreciate the scale of these works more.)

Interesting Facts:
Ron Mueck was born in Melbourne, Australia. He moved to London to make props for advertising and film. One of those films was Jim Henson's Labyrinth, in which he provided the voice for Ludo.


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February 2019

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