Thursday, November 20, 2008

exquisitely pleasant

Matching Hana's enthusiasm, I absolutely LOVED "Exquisite Corpse." We arrived around 5:45PM and the exhibit closed at 6:30PM so we figured we would just take a look around, write some notes, and research more online. Little did we know that the curator introduced himself, asked us where we were studying, and asked if Defne was our professor! We told him our troubles with understanding the context of contemporary art and he immediately began to give us a tour of the exhibit—from beginning to end. With each work each gave us background information, his interpretation of the work, and what others have thought of the work. He told us that the exhibition was arranged in such a away that all the pieces flowed together. I hadn't noticed it before but once he explained it to us I began to see how pieces with trees went after one another and similarly pieces with architecture, boats, bubbles, etc; He ended our tour with one last lingering question—is it always necessary to understand the context behind contemporary art? Maybe contemporary art isn't always meant to be understood… maybe it isn't always so clear cut. Contemporary art's focus is not purely aesthetic, as may be in the case of fine arts. Rather, contemporary art is comparatively, in his opinion, more thought provoking and more open to interpretation.

I learned that "Exquisite Corpse" was originally a game in which random words were placed together to create a new sentence or story. The first two words ever used in that game were exquisite and corpse, giving way to the title of the exhibition. These newly created sentences or stories were sometimes thought to contain a subconscious element—they were more than merely arbitrary words juxtaposed together. And thus this was the perfect term to name the exhibit as they all contained a subconscious opinion on the surreality of life in China.

One of my most favorite pieces was Lu Jin's "Chinese Real Estate Dream #15." The piece put together the traditional paint strokes of hills, trees, and running water with photos of skyscrapers placed within the waves of ocean. I thought it was so interesting to see the two opposite spectrums of tradition and modernity juxtaposed into one piece. It's a seemingly calm clash of East meets West and how they just might intertwine and live together in harmony.

Another one of my favorite pieces was Liu Ren's "Someday, Somewhere." She placed herself in her own piece, surrounded by bubbles with her inside also. There is also a beach scene juxtaposed into the photo. She is dancing on a street, in front of a governmental building in Beijing. She used very bright colors including magenta pink and bright blue. Her work gave off a very playful feel. It seemed like she was giving us a view into her fantastical world. She seemed to defy the stringent Communist government by dancing freely in front of it. It looked like she was living life listening to her own tunes, and "dancing as if nobody was watching." This work seems to convey the view of the youngest generation in China. Most of China's youth have lost sight of China's traditionalist views and moved onto their own age, where individualism takes precedence. Liu Ren's piece seems to perfectly manifest the views of Chinese youth.

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