They had assumed, right from the beginning of their history, that important things happened elsewhere. I was still delirious from jet lag, and had just taken a catamaran nine miles up the Derwent, which was disorienting enough. Had Hobart actually become Now I was about to get way out of my comfort zone. Suddenly, MONA had appeared on a headland like a ziggurat of concrete and rusted iron. This was where an artwork called Cloaca was maintained. Graeme Mineall said he has been keen to do the swim since it started in Not everyone is a fan of Dark Mofo's cheeky calendar of events, with the city's mayor expressing his distaste. This was Tasmania, after all.
There is a huge close-up of a bullet wound, urns filled with human ashes, rooms lined with plaster casts of female pudenda. Now I was about to get way out of my comfort zone. This was promising news. It turned out that he had double-booked and needed to travel into Hobart to see an experimental modern opera. MONA was turning out to be more adventurous than my wildest predictions. Apparently, participants would be escorted through the subterranean exhibitions while in the state that nature intended. But other critics suggest that any shakeup of the museum world is not entirely a bad thing. We were visible from every angle. In fact, one of the most original elements of the collection is its eclectic range: The whole city seemed to be in ferment. It was a fertile starting point. Sex and death are not my theme. A sarcophagus and mummy are part of a multimedia installation with an Andres Serrano photograph, for example. I started the engine and tried to ease into the conversation. Raised in the working-class suburbs of Hobart, he is a mathematical savant who dropped out of college to make his fortune as a professional gambler his empire is still funded by computerized betting, mostly on horse racing before indulging his real passion, art. I noted that the group was evenly split between men and women, thankfully representing all ages, shapes and sizes. Garnering at least as much attention as MONA itself is the man behind it, David Walsh—a mysterious multi- millionaire who was largely unknown to the Australian public 18 months ago. Walsh clearly has a taste for the provocative. Another spectacular lodge, called Saffire, opened two years ago by the Freycinet Peninsula; its main building is designed in a flowing form that evokes the pattern of the waves, with enormous picture windows facing a string of raw mountains called the Hazards. But MONA makes people realize that what they do matters, and is admired by others. If you can do it, try. We were then treated to an ambitious musical piece that featured discordant operatic singing accompanied by piano, cello and Brian Ritchie on the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo flute. From the Henry Jones Art Hotel—a former Georgian warehouse that has been renovated into luxury accommodations with exhibits of local artists in every corridor and room—I strolled via endless galleries to the Princes Wharf, which has long defied any form of progress. Sandy Bay A record number of naked backsides have galloped down a Hobart beach into the water for the annual mad dash of Dark Mofo's winter solstice nude swim. The stampede began at 7:
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