Article from The Age newspaper:
A leather chair, a laptop of death, a vexed decision
By Gabriella Coslovich
January 18, 2011
A photograph of My Beautiful Chair hangs from The Republic Tower in Melbourne. Photo: Craig Abraham
IF YOU were faced with the prospect of enduring a painful and protracted death in the grip of a terminal disease, would you want the legally sanctioned option of taking your own life? It is a vexed question that has polarised Australian society. But for artist Greg Taylor the answer is clear.
''Whether I would do it, I don't know, but I would at least want to have the choice. We don't tell people what God they have to worship, that's a choice that they have, so why should they be foisting their choice of death onto us?'' he said.
''Why should we have to suffer as a sacrifice to their God? That's bizarre, especially if you are an atheist. Hey, people, live and let live.''
Advertisement: Story continues below
As you may have guessed, Taylor is an atheist and euthanasia is the focus of his latest artwork, My Beautiful Chair. Some people might not consider it art - but what the work will do, literally, is put people in the hot seat, allowing them to experience what it might be like to choose to die.
Essentially, the work is a cosy domestic setting, the kind that Taylor would want to die in, surrounded by loved ones. There's a plush leather armchair, an elegant floor lamp and an antique Persian rug. On the top of a sleek glass coffee table is a seemingly innocuous laptop and a briefcase.
In fact, the laptop and briefcase are fully functioning replicas of the machine created by Australian doctor and ardent pro-euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke to help people end their life.
Euphemistically called the ''Deliverance Machine'', it has also been dubbed ''the laptop of death'' by opponents. When euthanasia was legal for a short time in the Northern Territory in the 1990s, four terminally ill people used the ''Deliverance Machine'' to end their lives.
On Saturday, the public will be able to passively experience what those four people went through, when Taylor's work goes on show in Hobart.
My Beautiful Chair is part of the opening exhibition of what promises to be one of Australia's most controversial private galleries, the Museum of Old and New Art, owned by art collector and professional gambler David Walsh, who knows about the suffering endured by the terminally ill.
Mr Walsh's brother, Tim, died of cancer 19 years ago, aged 33. As his disease progressed, ''he became more humiliated, less my brother'', Mr Walsh says.
Yesterday, a poster of My Beautiful Chair was erected on the Republic Tower billboard, on the corner of La Trobe and Queen streets, which has been the site of some traffic-stopping art, although the significance of Taylor's work may have been lost on passers-by. Its meaning is not immediately apparent.
When Taylor contacted Dr Nitschke to enlist his technical help in the creation of My Beautiful Chair, the doctor was intrigued. Taylor's unusual request came at an opportune time. Dr Nitschke and his organisation, Exit International, had been looking for ways to broaden the debate.