Thursday, March 20, 2008

Safety First

Safety First is an exhibition at the Fei Contemporary Art Center ( that opened last Saturday (March 15th). For class we were required to attend, and so I did. It's an interesting adventure I'm finding to get to any of these places. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to get to the nearest subway station and then from there it was a 15 minute ride on the subway and then from there a 30 minute walk to the actual place.
The walk was interesting because it was so long, and I wasn't really expecting that because on their website it doesn't really detail the walk as being that long (they just don't mention a time), so I was assuming it'd be relatively quick. But it was interesting and I actually was able to navigate it correctly and find my way there, although the actual location of Fei Art Center is a bit odd itself, it's in a mini-industrial center. Once there, I was able to tell where the exhibition was as I followed the crowd of people and spotted a table full of beer and soda and figured I was in the right place.

Entering you start out in darkness, the corridors are all essentially pitch black with sheets hanging from the ceiling. It's odd and I don't think I could have handled going through the entire piece with no light (people used cell phones and other mechanisms to light the way). The first thing that I remember seeing is the piece where there is a video camera taping into the dark and it's in "night-vision mode" (as you can tell because it's taping in that green way). What you hear is an odd slurping sound and you can't quite figure out what it is and then when you look at the tape you see a man kneeling before another man with his mouth at his crotch and one can assume what's happening. After that another piece was off of the corridor to the left and it was just a small empty room filled with a few strings that were lit ever so lightly with an orange glow (not like the entire string was filled with light, just pieces of it). It ended up looking pretty neat and I thought the room was interesting. After that as you reach the end of the corridor there's a large red flashing 'thing' at the end of the corridor, you can't tell what it is because of the sheets in front of you but every time it flashes it blinds you and makes you shy away because of its shock in the dark. Before you reach it, you see an exit door on your right and I went back to open it later and it doesn't open but a touch (It's essentially locked), which works with the Safety First theme. As you reach the end of the corridor you find out that the red flashing thing is the sickle and hammer logo.

After the long dark corridor you enter a large, open room (just basically the actual factory/warehouse itself). The first thing you notice is there are these hens which are covered in a glow in the dark 'dusting' which makes them appear pretty neat. They just sit there and eat food and glow in the dark. There are warning signs in this room as well, which light up and fade off as well. Along with the warning signs is a wall where there is furniture half sticking out of the wall like it has morphed with the wall itself, or molded with it. The furniture was pretty neat, I thought it looked cool. Along with this you could see into the back of the room with the guy kneeling at the other man, and when one person flashed a large light in the room you could see that the person that was on the receiving end was actually a manikin. If there hadn't been a bright light though, I would have never known, as in the small video camera that you can see it looks entirely real. There is also a small other room where there are taped events. One is where a man was digging a hole in a street and another is of a cup that was filled with liquid that now lies tipped over on the roof of a building.

Some of the art in this exhibition was interesting and just plain cool, but a lot of it I didn't know where it came from or why it was there. I just didn't understand the logic or reasoning behind some of it which makes it difficult for me. Otherwise, I thought the exhibition was interesting and the artist played with the irony of safety through out the entire exhibit but I'd like to know more behind what the reasoning was.

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