Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Blue Books

The Intrude: Art & Life 366 project at Zendai MoMA provides a creative and driving medium that expresses and touches upon various social issues and contemporary trends in China.  Various projects conveyed themes such as right to privacy, gender issues, and the effects of income disparity. Something that really stood out to me was the number of projects that involved citizen participation. Engaging the general public is a smart way to encourage social cohesion, especially as China has 1.3 billion people who must learn how to live together in "a harmonious society" that President Hu Jintao has proposed. 

Artist Li Mu's "The Blue Books" illustrates the connections discovered between teenagers in the Shanghai Juvenile Reformatory to works of literature and to "the outside world". Li Mu expresses the understanding and exchange that books provide us, from human to human, soul to soul; this connection is universal and allows the individual to find freedom and peace. Each portrait presents the individual wearing the same blue uniform as his fellow inmates, eyes covered like the rest, but distinguished through his or her choice of prose. I like how Li Mu communicates that we are all different and we are our own individual, yet we are all the same, and this is not to be forgotten. For these teenagers, books serve as a means of escape, a model for what there still is and this hope and connection to the outside world should never be forgotten. They must not forget, and for us in the outside world, it is important that we do not forget them, as well.

I like the concept for Intrude: Art & Life 366-- presenting a cultural event per day in 2008. I found this to be a brilliant way of engaging the public and widening the exposure to the arts and to opportunities towards free expression. Word.

Photos: Li Mu's "The Blue Books", Zendai MoMA Shanghai

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