What is it with the new Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA)? Everything I’ve heard about it, particularly prior to the opening, has been so positive. Meanwhile, I’m really grappling to find something to like about it. The only slights I’ve read is Macarthur’s references to middle-class roofs etc. I’m not interested in diminishing the work involved, but I am interested in questioning a range of critical choices. These choices are made for perhaps a range of sensible reasons, but the culmination is disappointing, and I’m sick of excusing it.
Federation Square, on the other-hand, may not be popular with Architects, but as a curator and a viewer I really like it. Approaching, hiking up the artificial topography, it’s experiential. The same goes for the Australia Centre of Contemporary Art (ACCA), which always makes me laugh to think how it literally reminds of Uluru. It’s a unique context for anticipating the contemporary art inside.
I’ve been relieved of no longer hearing: we call it (GoMA) the white box because it’s where the art is and the black box because it’s where the cinema is. If I was so innovative, there’d be no point in going on. But why isn’t it aspirational? Why is it just a white box and a black box? What about this wanna-be Lucerne is unique to Australia or sub-tropical Queensland? The best I can come up with is that it’s a wanker’s beach house.
GoMA is so insensitive (particularly to the Indigenous area); it’s just big, arrogant and intellectually offensive. I’d previously referred to MoMA as a shopping mall, but GoMA is literally just a really bad, domestic and inflexible mall. The river rooms are perhaps the most annoying tack-ons, particularly when compared with the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) where there are a number of intimate spaces or connections with the river. In fact, every time I go to SLQ I discover another reason to spend more time there.
Presently, the most exasperating thing of all is the guarded Anish Kapoor’s. And why have I only seen white people, typically families taking their kids to art day-care? Does everybody like it just because it’s new? Maybe the exhibitions will improve and this is just a period or re-adjustment to another new space.
My established disappointment reminds me of the New Art Gallery Walsall. When the fanfare settled staff kept encountering patrons overcome with emotion. When they asked if there was anything they could do to help, the person would respond that they just never imagined a building like this in their town. I want to say the same.