Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Night on Earth

Yesterday I went to see Night on Earth at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Surprisingly, on a Monday afternoon, there were quite a number of people visiting this exhibition and a lot more Chinese people than the time I went to see the Ferragamo display. In the description it says that this exhibition is based on a series of “intertwined events that is based on the current chance and challenge” of Shanghai, Berlin, and Helsinki. However, I really didn’t understand what that meant so I decided to look at each piece of art by itself and interpret it the way I saw it. In my opinion, oftentimes it’s better to just see an artwork without the influence by any background information and just ask yourself the emotions and thoughts that you have when you are observing the work.

There were two pieces at the exhibition that caught my attention the most. The first one was titled “Room with a View.” It was a picture of a traditional messy Chinese house but through the window, you could see some sort of modern Greek statue in a beautiful forest kind of setting on the outside. I feel like this really reflects the mentality of Chinese society in that they don’t really care about the material things that they buy for private use. Lower class people would rather live in a small messy dump and still be able to buy brand name cell phones and cars and sit in Haagen-Dazs eating ice-cream letting other people see that they are living the high life. I remember there was a business class I took a while ago where the professor told us that was also the reason why Victoria’s Secret was unsuccessful in setting up a market here in China because people were not willing to invest in personal items that the world could not see.

The second display that caught my attention was bunch of pillows shaped as police cars stacked up on each other that looked as if they were just involved in a car accident. Public safety and security have become one of the main concerns of the modern Chinese society in recent years. When the general stand of living increase drastically within cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, the public expects more than mere emergency response from the police force. An excessive demand for order and maintaining order suddenly increased the number of police presence within all the major cities. However the art seems to mock at the overflowing amount of police and their little effect on society. Such problem of police inefficiency not only appears in Shanghai and Beijing but other major cities around the world as well. One of the clearest examples is the United States and its recent police scandals. Boosting with the largest police force and equipped with the best technology, the United States police force spends a large portion of the U.S. budget yearly along with other defense expenditures. Yet the crime rate within the United States has been steady for the past several years, new methods and advantage technology seems to made little effect within the society. Like the artwork suggested, some of these problems involving lack of police efficiency resulted from the problems within the police force. The increasing amount of forces not only failed to assist each other, but instead they block each other’s way when conducting investigation and other work. I felt this piece of art is very typical liberalist in a sense where it is overly critical of all governmental institutions, yet failed to remark its improvement over the years. But then again, perhaps the real purpose of the artist was completely different from my interpretation; after all, modern art is a play on the imagination and a twist in interpretation.

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