When American artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken visited Tasmania in June 2019 he shared with an exclusive group of industry players his vision for the Project X Green Lens art installation in the South Ida Bay State Reserve, the site of the now dormant Ida Bay Railway.
The details of what Green Lens was to be remain confidential, as is the MONA way.
Green Lens is no longer. It is now called Transformer as pictured.
DarkLab Creative Director Leigh Carmichael advised Tasmanian Times:
“Green Lens transitioned into Transformer. As we worked through the process it became clear some hurdles were too high to jump for Green Lens.
Mostly environmental issues such as water requirements, building heights, etc.
We didn’t feel comfortable proceeding so we changed course and we are very, very happy with the result. ”
“Our aim is to lodge a development application with the Huon Valley Council later this year, and pending approvals we plan to open in December 2021,” Carmichael said.
Almost from the moment the site location was announced in mid-June there have been rumblings about a Saffire Freycinet style accommodation development in the far south of Tasmania.
When TT inquired with Carmichael about MONA’s plans to establish high class accommodation in the vicinity of the Project X installation he said: “Mona doesn’t have any plans to develop accommodation at this stage.”
“Our focus will be on the installation and the visitor services required to get it open as soon as possible, hopefully late next year if all runs smoothly.”
“If the visitor numbers are high – we expect there will be strong interest from other investors looking at accommodation, there is clearly a shortage of options in the area. We don’t expect this interest eventuating until Transformer has proved itself as a draw card,” said Carmichael.
Out of the original $2 million dollars in government grants which were urgently provided to increase much-needed tourism into southern Tasmania following the February 2019 bushfires, there is reportedly still $1.5m in the MONA saddle bags to spend as they see fit.
Carmichael explained back in June: “The money (grant) was given to DarkLab for Project X. Nothing to do with Council, they supported the application to the federal government, but they have no control or responsibility for the deed, it’s a DarkLab project wholly.”
“We report to the Feds. It’s our decision as to how we spend the money based on objectives set out in the deed around visitation. The federal government sign off before we proceed. We’ve put forward five projects. Two have been completed, two weren’t approved and one is still being worked on.”
“We are highly confident that Transformer will provide long term benefits to the region,” he said.
When asked about how the plans for the The Ida Bay Railway will fit into the site, Carmichael continued:
“Our plans won’t impede the Ida Bay Railway from operating again. It will most likely provide the Preservation Society with a renewed interest in the site.
However, our research indicates a huge sum of money is required to operate the train and restore the track and rolling stock which is not something we have an interest in doing ourselves. If the society is able to raise the money it would be great to see the train running again, and we’ll be able to share visitor services (parking, toilets etc). It looks like a huge task though.”
At the request of the The Ida Bay Railway Preservation Society (IBRPS), the Minister for Environment and Parks, Roger Jaensch visited the site of the Ida Bay Railway at Lune River 8 July 2020 and indicated that he could not see why both proposals could not be made to work in that area of the Reserve.
About Transformer artist Doug Aitken
Doug Aitken (born 1968) is an American artist and filmmaker. Defying definitions of genre, he explores every medium, from film and installations to architectural interventions. Utilizing a wide array of artistic approaches, Aitken’s immersive works lead us into a world where time, space, and memory are fluid concepts. His work has been featured in exhibitions around the world, in such institutions as the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Museum of Modern Art, the Vienna Secession, the Serpentine Gallery in London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Aitken earned the International Prize at the Venice Biennale for the installation electric earth, the 2012 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize, and the 2013 Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award: Visual Arts. www.dougaitkenworkshop.com
TASMANIAN TIMES: X-pectations still Awry as Green Lens Threatens Rail Fail.
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