MONA’s Pharos exhibition is an enlightening experience

MONA’s Pharos exhibition is an enlightening experience

April 26, 2018 1 By AJ

Pharos

On my last blog post, I visited the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), where I inexplicably forgot to visit the Pharos exhibition.

Dedicated and determined (it is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it), I ventured to MONA again to rectify the situation. I do it for you, the people.

The concept of the exhibition is light. By doing a little reading I found:

Pharos – Island of Pharos – Alexandria – Lighthouse of Alexandria – Pharos of Alexandria…

Pharos is a satellite exhibition away from the main museum building. It is all of a three minute walk, and it is well worth it.

Tickets still need to be obtained at the main museum, and if visiting the main museum first, make sure to keep your tickets as they are checked / laser zapped at the Pharos entry point.

The ever guiding MONA attendants direct me to the installation as though I was a weary traveller looking for an inn.

Pharos arrow

Pharos is that way

Pharos: Your Path to Enlightenment

Entry to Pharos is via a lift or stairs – just like the main building.

I am greeted by another intrepid MONA staffer, advising me to visit the Grotto (and to keep my shoes off the lounge) halfway up the corridor and then return for further instruction.

I cautiously turn and enter the room, not sure exactly what to expect. What I see is a silver clad room, decked out in 70’s style glam. Shiny! It is a room you will not see anywhere else, except for perhaps, in a house owned by a cocaine addled rock star. Or Axl Rose’s house.

Pharos Shiny Grotto

Down in the Grotto

After a comfortable sit down and a selfie or two – it is the selfie capital of the museum – I return to the attendant, and follow instruction to head down stairs to my next experience.

Sumpt’ing is Up

The 20:50 is about to take things to the next level. I am again approached and given a run down of the art work – Do not touch it and mind the edge. My child-like naivety is a godsend – because I am blown away by what is before me. I will not give anymore information away.

The Memorial to the Sacred Wind or The Tomb of a Kamikaze sits unassumingly on a large, low to the floor stand, almost as an afterthought. There are no staff offering pre-viewing advice. I look, and I leave.

Pharos Sacred Wind Machine works

Sacred Wind Machine

I collect my O from the collection point in the corner of the room.  The O is needed to obtain your golden ticket to Event Horizon experience and to learn some more background to the Pharos exhibits.

Walk This Way

The attendant tells me to keep to the path and to mind the edges. This advice subconsciously makes the walkway seem narrower, more like walking a beam or a plank, plus the lighting effect masks the simplicity of walking, one foot in front of the other, far more concentrated.

Beside Myself is like some messed up space bridge you are forced to cross to pass in to a new dimension.

Pharos walk the plank

The Beside Myself Space bridge

The changing colours of the room is kind of mood changing as it subtly switches from mauve to pink, and on the return walk, from a stark blood red, to a darker green (above).

The restaurant and bar Faros is at the other end of the Beside Myself tunnel of light.

Event Horizon

The entry to Event Horizon is also here. An attendant asks if I have a ticket (I gleefully wave my O at them displaying my golden ticket that has popped up on the screen) and she asks me to wait on the white Faros couches while a group finish their turn.

Soon enough I get to go in with a few others for our “contemplative experience”.

The premise of the exhibit is explained, and it’s pretty surreal. Imagine being in Antarctica, and seeing no horizon because of be reflection of the sun on the ice. Apparently this is known as a “white out”.

The lab coat wearing attendant explains to my group about the strobe and light conditions within the art work and that no photography is permitted. We get told our behaviour requirements including where we can stand, to be quiet and when we can exit. Young kids were allowed to enter in my group but they and their parents only stayed about 7 minutes.

Once in the soft purple coloured room it’s hard to know what to do. I find myself looking around like at an open home. The room cycles though a rainbow of colours. Then BAM! The strobe on the far wall blasts into action. My eyes become entranced and search for shapes and definition I no longer see. In my self-created cone of silence I keep focused on the wall for approximately 15 minutes as the colours play with my fragile little mind.

At the end of the second strobe light show I exit and have my Event Horizon debrief.

It’s safe to say the Pharos wing is a pretty neat exhibition. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The Memorial to the Sacred Wind or The Tomb of a Kamikaze was loudly chugging away as I exited the area. The whole thing moves!

But Wait, There’s More…

There are two other elements to Pharos. Unseen Seen and Weight of Darkness require an extra ticket and a specific booking time. It is limited to two people per session and is for adults only. I’ll endeavour to get along in the near future.

In my opinion, MONA does “light shows” better than anyone. I cannot wait for Dark Mofo

Have you been to Pharos? Did you have a favourite exhibit?