Why do we need art? How does it benefit us and why should artists be paid to contribute to society in this way? These questions have been a constant in the industry, with discussions of value, both monetary and psychologically. The Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, puts these angles into conversation in their new exhibition On the Origin of Art.
The focus of the show, amongst these other wider-spread thoughts, is on the adaptability of art: how it has helped humans to survive and thrive in some way. Taking an interesting and fresh perspective on the value of creative expression, they delve into geological and ecological benefits. Crossing over the boundaries between art and science, the exhibition calls upon Steven Pinker, Brian Boyd, Geoffrey Miller and Mark Changizi to apply their methodologies into the question, each curating one part of the show.
Pinker rejects the analytical theories which posit the strength of the medium in terms of psychological and emotional development, instead taking influence from Darwinian theory and using it is a reason for why we create. Boyd takes a more cognitive approach, considering how animals communicate with each other, and in this sense, how it contributes to “signalling systems” between the piece and its viewer. Miller, however, furthers this idea into the pleasure sensors of our brains, thinking about how artworks can inherently open us up to a state of attraction and euphoria. Lastly, Changizi he posits that we don’t have instincts for art like music, language and design, however it is something that reflects civilisation: we have grown to become accustomed to it and have evolved around it being present.
As Mona founder, David Walsh, states: “Curators, typically, weave a cultural web. But the web of art, like that of life, has evolution at its genesis. Let’s see if those who have insights into evolution can tease out something about the nature of art. If they can, we should see a good show.”
Other artists contributing to the event include: Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georgia O’Keefe, Andy Goldworthy, Bridget Riley, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and Hiroshi Sugimoto, with over 234 objects from 25 countries.
On the Origin of Art runs until 17 April. Find out more: www.mona.net.au
1. Dots Obsession—Tasmania (2016). Yayoi Kusama. Mixed media installation. Commissioned by Mona for On the Origin of Art ©Yayoi Kusama. Courtesy YAYOI KUSAMA Inc., Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/ Singapore and Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Photo Credit: Mona/Rémi Chauvin. Image Courtesy Mona, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.