Introduction — June 11, 2018
The argument offered by festival founder, David Walsh, to justify the display of inverted crosses on Hobart waterfront may fool some city councillors. They are also likely to fool the Guardian, which is renowned for celebrating any challenge to tradition, as long as it doesn’t call into question the real powers that be.
However, David Walsh fails to properly address exactly why symbols that are universally recognised as being satanic are being so prominently displayed.
What does it say about a society when the display of such symbols is justified with arguments about “pushing the boundaries” in art? Such specious arguments would make the arch deceiver himself proud. Ed.
Dark Mofo: Mona founder unperturbed by controversy over inverted crosses
Stephanie Convery — The Guardian June 16, 2018
The Mona founder David Walsh has shrugged his shoulders at the controversy stirred up, in entirely predictable fashion, by the erection of enormous, neon red inverted crucifixes on Hobart’s waterfront as part of Mona’s midwinter music and arts festival, Dark Mofo.
Walsh responded to the assertion from some members of Hobart’s Christian community that the crucifixes were “highly offensive” by saying: “I’d say about 50 things. But why are they upside down? Firstly, St Peter was crucified upside down. Why? Because he didn’t want to be like Jesus. So maybe all the churches that have up the right way crosses are blasphemers.”
His comments echoed the perspective expressed on Friday morning on ABC radio by Dark Mofo’s creative director, Leigh Carmichael, who said provocation was “part of Mona’s DNA” and argued that while “the cross is deeply significant in our historical context … symbols don’t have an inherent meaning. The meaning comes from what we bring to them.”
The controversy was fuelled this week by comments from Mark Brown, the Tasmanian director for the Australian Christian Lobby, who suggested Dark Mofo was inviting in the devil with the crosses: “We’re dealing with spiritual forces here. I don’t think those involved with this event, David Walsh and Leigh Carmichael, would disagree with the spiritual realm being a real thing,” he said.
On Friday, the Mercury newspaper published letters to the editor complaining about the crosses. One said it was a “shameful” use of public space, while another, from Reverend Matt Garvin of the Citywide Baptist Church, said that while the inverted cross was “commonly thought to be a Satanic symbol”, churches should “engage with the conversation that David Walsh has created in our city”.
“Alternatively,” said Walsh, “It’s reasonable to contend that we are at the other side of the earth than Jerusalem, so if you map them, we’re actually the same way up.”
Walsh made the comments at an unscheduled news conference during the media preview for Mona’s new exhibition, Zero, which opens on Saturday night.
“For me, the fear is not pushing the boundaries, it’s reinhabiting the centre,” he said. “When something becomes successful usually that’s a combination of winning the lottery and being a bit quirky, and the conservatism creeps in.”
Last year, Dark Mofo created headlines with Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch’s 150. Action, which made liberal use of fish and bull carcasses, milk and hundreds of litres of animal blood.