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Arlo Mountford

The Folly 2008-2009

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds donated by the Coe & Mordant Families, 2009

Print, multi-channel digital video, colour, sound, 10min

9 min 59s

About the Artwork

The Folly is a three-screen digital work in which Arlo Mountford has animated three paintings by the sixteenth century Flemish artist, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Using the computer, Mountford redrew the genre paintings The Corn Harvest (1565), The Hunters in the Snow (1565) and Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (c1558).

The digital animation reveals the slow rhythms of peasant life in an agrarian society. This effect is reinforced by the addition of a sparse soundtrack, where a bird’s call, or the munching of an apple, punctuates the passage of time. At times the barely audible voice of a woman quotes a passage from Aldous Huxley’s novel, Eyeless in Gaza (1936). A number of historical resonances, contemporary and ancient, arise from this novel. The title is derived, via a poem by John Milton (1608-1674), from the biblical story of Samson who, blinded by the Philistines, was forced to work grinding grain in Gaza.

Arlo Mountford’s artistic practice is in part concerned with redefining and refiguring images from art history. At times his approach is satirical, critically interrogating the idea of the canon and the museum’s role in the promotion of it. The title refers to the failure of the mythical Icarus’ attempt to fly, as well as to an architectural 'folly' a structure designed solely for aesthetic pleasure.


Quotation: Arlo Mountford, The Folly, exhibition floor sheet, Dubbo Regional Gallery, 2009

Art will be the culmination of its pasts.

Arlo Mountford

Arlo Mountford

– About the artist


Arlo Mountford completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne in 2002. His most recent solo exhibition Arlo Mountford: The Vanishing Point of History, was held at LUMA/La Trobe University Museum of Art, Melbourne 2011. In 2009 he exhibited work at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, and the Art Centre, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.

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