Moira Finucane’s Gallery ‘Tour’, by Neil Maizels

Neil Maizels

18 Feb 2017

Moira Finucane: The Intimate 8

Can Burlesque be Art?

Can Art be Burlesque?

Can art criticism be a dance, or a Vaudeville romp around Australia’s largest art gallery?

Can the free (and hilariously droll) musings of a sparkly, adventurous super-woman produce an entertainingly valid criticism of art criticism?

The answers are all Yes.

Moira, besplendoured in Audrey Hepburn formal after five wear, conducts us – no, dances us – around the National Gallery of Victoria inside (thanks to our headphones) an utter whirlwind of sequinoscopic ero-magical free association to the paintings and objects that she waylays and waissails in her wake.

We are enchanted—no question. But we also come to realise that so-called art criticism is a state of mind. We can stay on the outside of a work—intellectually—or we can let the living lenses of our minds playfully, but seriously, but playfully, engage the work, and truthfully respond with our whole hearts and souls.

Finucane invites us to watch her doing this, and thereby frees our stiffened critical machinery to join her in the game—the serious game.

This is no mere entertainment. This engages and coaxes and flirts—and Finucane gives us her heart. Quite literally, as it turns out, because, unexpectedly, we are given one of Catherine Lane’s hand-crafted porcelain hearts as a souvenir.

But, the most precious thing we get to keep, as a living reverberation of the one-hour ‘tour’, is Finucane’s luscious and liberating freedom to respond.

And, not just to Art—but to Life.

Moira implore us:

Every single work (here) is unresolved … Art only comes to Life in the human imagination.  To be eaten by human imagination … it is yours to eat … yours to be inspired by, art is yours.


She invites a new responsiveness and sensitivity to variegated aspects of pieces that might otherwise have remained dead to us as we might have shuffled past with a yawn as we labelled them as merely, for example, War, Weimar, Women, Love, Aristocracy or Religious.  Her ‘Jesus room’ asides and discoveries are a highlight. For example, she notes that a particular Jesus sculpture is actually hollow, and this is transformative of our little group, who begin to gingerly, and curiously, step behind to see for themselves.

This act sings and dances and cajoles, but, like Wendy and her siblings holding onto Peter Pan’s flight of fancy across the rooftops of sooty London, we will never ever forget her spirit of adventure when we next venture out into the pre-framed galleries and memories of our lives.

About the author

Neil Maizels

Neil Maizels is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and composer based in Melbourne.

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