Arlo Mountford yearns for a pre-industrial era, a time before Twitter, Instagram, mobile phones and the internet, when life was dictated by the seasons and people worked in the fields.
Given Mountford’s nostalgia, it is not surprising he is drawn to the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the 16th-century artist nicknamed “peasant Bruegel” who powerfully captured the activities of everyday life.
In homage to the Flemish master, Mount- ford has produced his own distinctive and entirely contemporary interpretation of some of Bruegel’s most famous works, such as The Hunters in the Snow (1565), The Harvesters (1565) and
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (c. 1558). Mountford’s reworked version, titled The
Folly, consists of three panels and uses an animation program to set in motion the scenes in the Bruegel paintings, such as skaters on a frozen lake, hunters and their dogs trudging through the snow, and peasants stoking a fire. A soundtrack leads the viewer’s attention from one panel to the next.
The Folly is part of the Queensland Art Gallery collection and I’m shown the work in Brisbane by Sally Foster, assistant curator of international art (pre 1975), and Peter McKay, curator of contemporary Australian art.
We stand before the work in the restored spaces of the gallery’s Philip Bacon Galleries,
Three-channel digital animation with four-channel audio, nine minutes