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MONA is livestreaming a man and his tattooed back because it's MONA

Nicola Dowse
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Nicola Dowse

The Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) shut its doors to the public on Wednesday, March 18 to slow the spread of Covid-19. What it didn’t shut off was its appetite for avant-garde, innovative and (let's be real) just plain weird art.

With that in mind, dear readers, let us introduce you to Tim – a former tattoo parlour manager from Zurich who is inexplicably sitting out Covid-19 on a livestream at MONA. Since 2011, Tim has spent more than 3,500 hours sitting on a plinth in MONA, with his tattooed back (created by Wim Delvoye, who also created works ‘Chapel’ and ‘Cloaca’ at MONA) being streamed in real time online.

Tim and his inked dorsal region are an ongoing artwork. The work was sold, unfinished, to German art collector Rik Reinking in 2008 for more than $250,000 AUD. And what we see on the MONA livestream isn’t the complete work either. No, the work is only finished when Tim dies and the tattoo is handed over to its owner. Art, huh?

Tim is adamant that he is not an artist – simply the frame on which the canvas hangs. Mostly he just sits quietly in the semi-darkness every day, but sometimes he’s absent for bathroom breaks. And yes, in case you’re wondering if sitting on a box all day still as a statue is tough, you’d be right. Tim exercises and meditates every day before the livestream so that he can get through the challenging 6.5 hours of nothingness. And you thought self-isolation at home was difficult.

If you want to see Tim and his $250,000 back, you’ve got until April 30 to check out the livestream between 10am and 4.30pm daily. You can watch the livestream via MONA or YouTube.

ACMI has started a weekly virtual film club.

And you can now explore Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the Immigration Museum online.

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