Mu­seum of Ev­ery­thing

All art is cre­ated equal in this ex­hi­bi­tion of ‘out­sider’ artists, show­ing in Ho­bart on tour from Lon­don. By Dee Jef­fer­son

Time Out (Sydney) - - Arts & Culture -

YOU’VE NEVER SEEN any­thing like MONA’s lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion, we’re will­ing to bet. The Mu­seum of Ev­ery­thing is a rov­ing non-profit project that un­cov­ers, col­lects and ex­hibits the work of artists who – for the most part – are ‘non-pro­fes­sional’: not trained, not mak­ing art for pub­lic con­sump­tion, not ‘rep­re­sented’. Some would call this ‘out­sider’ art, but James Brett, who heads the project (he doesn’t like the ti­tle ‘cu­ra­tor’) prefers not to use that term: “Ev­ery­body is out­side, ev­ery­body is in­side, we are all ‘other’. Abil­ity and dis­abil­ity are the same thing, and it does de­pend com­pletely on the lens through which you view the world.” Within a rab­bit war­ren of 30 small rooms, al­most 2,000 works by around 100 artists, from the 19th cen­tury to the 21st, are ar­ranged, so closely to­gether that the ef­fect is over­whelm­ing. The best known name is hos­pi­tal jan­i­tor and pro­lific writer-il­lus­tra­tor Henry Darger, with his Vi­vian Girls epic; vis­i­tors may also recog­nise the psy­che­delic fe­lines of Louis Wain. Se­ri­ous schol­ars of French art his­tory will be au fait with coal miner-turned-visionary pain­ter Au­gustin Lesage (much ad­mired by An­dré Bre­ton and the sur­re­al­ists) and the psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal res­i­dent who be­came an ‘art brut’ pi­o­neer, Au­guste Forestier. But much of this ex­hi­bi­tion con­sists of work never pre­vi­ously ex­hib­ited, by artists you wouldn’t other­wise dis­cover. Draw­ings are ex­e­cuted on work­book pa­per, servi­ettes and bank notes; sculp­tures are made from oil drums, ap­pli­ances, toys and bro­ken plates. It’s as if the mak­ers grabbed the clos­est thing to hand – and in a way, they did. The preva­lence of ev­ery­day ‘found ma­te­ri­als’ in this ex­hi­bi­tion is tes­ta­ment to an ur­gent and un­pre­ten­tious art­mak­ing im­pulse.

Mu­seum of Old and New Art, 655 Main Rd, Ber­riedale TAS 7011. 03 6277 9900. Wed-Mon 10am-5pm. $20-$28. Un­til Apr 2.

“Abil­ity and dis­abil­ity are the same thing”

Bog­dan Zi­etek

Hans-Jorg Georgi

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