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News May 28, 2024

Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ Is Coming to Mona

STAFF
Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ Is Coming to Mona
Image: Luke Fenstemaker

One of hip hop’s most fabled albums is coming to Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona).

As part of the upcoming exhibition, ‘Namedropping’, Mona will present Wu-Tang Clan‘s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. For a limited time only, visitors to the museum can see the album on display, with limited access to public listening events set to be held in Mona’s Frying Pan Studios.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin was recorded in secret over six years, and pressed onto a two-CD copy with the digital master files deleted. Wu-Tang Clan’s album was completed and put to auction in 2015, eventually becoming owned by digital art collective Pleasr.

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is bound by a legal agreement with the purchaser, which stipulates that the album can’t be commercially exploited until 2103, although it can only be played at private listening parties.

It will be a momentous occasion for Mona: the album’s upcoming appearance is the first time that it’s been loaned to a museum since the original sale.

Jarrod Rawlins, Director of Curatorial Affairs, Mona, says: “Every once in a while, an object on this planet possesses mystical properties that transcend its material circumstances. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin is more than just an album, so when I was thinking about status, and what a transcendent namedrop could be, I knew I had to get it into this exhibition.”

The album’s current owners Pleasr shared the following statement: “10 years ago, the Wu-Tang Clan had a bold vision to make a single copy album as a work of fine art. To ‘put it in an art gallery…make music become a living piece like a Mona Lisa or a sceptre from Egypt.’

“With this single work of art, the Wu-Tang Clan’s intention was to redefine the meaning of music ownership and value in a world of digital streaming and commodification of music. Pleasr is honoured to partner with Mona to support RZA’s vision for Once Upon a Time in Shaolin.”

According to a press release, ‘Namedropping’ sees Mona’s curators “zero in on status and the human pursuit of looking good in the eyes of others.”

The upcoming exhibition, contains around 200 artworks and objects assembled in the museum’s subterranean galleries, will pose some major questions: What makes the big names big: Porsche, Picasso or Pompidou? What is the nature of status and why is it useful? Is status all about culture, or is there something deeper?

Visitors to ‘Namedropping’ can experience a curated 30-minute mix from Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, played from a personalised Wu-Tang Clan PlayStation 1 in Frying Pan Studios by attending a listening event. These events will run twice daily, Monday-Friday, between June 15th-24th.

Mona will release a limited number of free tickets for each event, which will become available from Thursday, May 30th at 10am AEST.

Find out more information about ‘Namedropping’ at Mona here

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