'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.


  • Title: The Folly
  • Creator: Arlo Mountford
  • Date Created: 2008-09
  • Type: Installation
  • Rights: Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with funds provided by the Coe and Mordant Families, 2009. Image courtesy and copyright the artist.
  • External Link: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Medium: 3 channel video, 4 channel audio digital animation, 9:59 minutes

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