The Museum of Contemporary Art has finished its $15 million renovation project and delivers what I like to professionally term as a ‘themed pub’.
That’s to say, I doubt any self-respecting pub in Ireland would decorate its interiors with neon shamrocks yet that has become the defining identifier for Irish pubs across the globe.
I appreciate that the new extension to the art gallery is modern when compared to the original building. My itch is that it’s not really modern but rather modernist (replica). Why are we building a modernist building as a representation of contemporary art in Sydney 2012?
It could be an attempt at representing a cartoon cliché of ‘contemporary art’ – namely a point when abstract art (ie. Mondrian’s pastiches) hit the mainstream.
And you’d be rightly thinking that that represents an art movement now a good century old. But the explanation may be that that was the first and last time that art made a distinct aesthetic departure and therefore the easiest means to communicate what the building’s purpose is to the broadest audience (shamrocks).
And it’s no doubt more timeless to build something that has already had its time than try to build something that was actually contemporary at the risk of it not being contemporary any more by the time it was finished (?)
Whatever the justification, it feels like a missed opportunity. I first thought laziness, but that’s too harsh. Looking at all the kooky stuff they’re building in Dubai, you’d think there would be enough technology available in our day to put together a spectacular art gallery that could rival a Guggenheim or two… it’s right across from the Opera House for goodness sake!!
Alas this will be my only complaint about it as it’s a safe and pleasant building. I’m partial to a little modernism and it’s just not interesting enough to stimulate any public outcry (or buzz).