Wednesday, March 19, 2008
caught off guard
Accidently attending another opening last Saturday, I visited FCAC earlier tonight. Hearing from others that the exhibition was "freaky" I simply dismissed the comments, assuming that the show was just another unconventional, experiential piece rather than anything remotely frightening. As the taxi dropped us off, however, I already began to feel somewhat uneasy. Fairly desolate and dark, the location itself fed into what we would soon experience. Stepping through the curtain, into the dark space, I immediately was reminded of American haunted houses where one feels a sense of threat looming around each corner. Though, unlike visiting haunted houses, before arriving I had no idea what to expect. Without the preconceived notion of fear (and due to the location), I feel the show was much more successful than any fabricated Halloween set-up. When one visits a haunted house she anticipates panic as a form of recreation. On the other hand, one does not visit an art gallery wishing to achieve such a high. FCAC hits the audience with the element of surprise.
The uneasiness attained stemmed, too, from the gallery's location. A similar setup situated within MoMA could never produce the same feelings for the viewer. Inside MoMA one would feel a sense of safety from the beginning. The sheer amount of surrounding people would also add to one's feeling of security. Helena and I did not encounter any additional visitors during our entire stay, which I think made it seem a bit scarier. I do feel, however, that the addition of a few people would have been beneficial to one's sense of insecurity--extra footsteps, not knowing whether the strangers are viewers or part of the piece itself.
Although a few aspects seemed irrelevant...the dark room and video room...I am glad to see a show in Shanghai that is different from the norm.