Wednesday, March 19, 2008
at Fei Contemporary Art Center
A fresh alternative to the white-walled gallery, Safety First is an experiential, "experimental" exhibition in which we are made to make our way through darkness. The immediate reaction is fear-- as soon as we part the curtain, we are thrown into a dark hallway. We proceed with caution through curtained pathways and rooms filled with oddities. One such room contains three chairs and a TV on static. Through two peep holes is a room of toys (a headless crawling doll included). Creepy, confusing and full of surprises. But the show doesn't stop at here. We are surprised again as the hallway opens up to a large space and reveals the back walls of the rooms we were just in. This is certainly confusing as we don't know how to proceed. With a bit of exploring we find beer cans, the creepy back of a man, furniture jutting out of the walls. A separate room shows videos of construction sites and we hear a constant pounding sound. If we compare each room to another, there seems to be little relation-- what does a blinking Communist sickle have to do with furniture or an uncanny room of toys? The exhibition relies on the darkness to pull it all together. But the randomness makes the show confusing in a good way, and not too clean.