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Posts Tagged perspective

I recently went YouTube Preview Image with a couple of friends to the Skin Fruit exhibition at the New Museum. I walked in with no expectations, just excited to see something new. The exhibit, which was a selection of art from Dakis Joanno's collection curated by Jeff Koons, reminded me why seeing is not enough, sometimes we all need to look closer. For me the act of viewing this exhibit was a practice in re-evaluation.

For some reason while viewing this exhibit the experience of looking seemed much more intense. Not all of the art was beautiful, some of it was outright grotesque. It all had a certain undeniably human, mortal, fleeting quality to it. The sort of quality that gets under your skin...and perhaps that is the point.

The exhibit title "Skin Fruit" is interesting. On the outside there is the skin, possibly tough, possibly rough protecting the sweet fruit inside. And with the pieces in the exhibit, you are skinning the fruit with your eyes. Each additional second spent looking reveals more  to you, until you finally reach something sweeter...a conclusion, realization or fresh perspective you didn't have before.

My favorite piece in the exhibit was All by Maurizio Cattelan. The work was sectioned off in it's own room; the room itself and the room before it had the lights lowered slightly -- compared to the stark white and bright rooms of the rest of the museum this really shifted the atmosphere. From a distance you see nine body bags lying in a row in the next room. At first you're apprehensive: death, decay, the reminder of your own mortality float to the top of your mind. At this point my friends were ready to turn around having seen enough to be satisfied. If it weren't for my natural inclination to question EVERYTHING I likely would have too, instead I moved closer.

Maurizio Cattelan, All, 2007. White Carrara marble, 9 parts each: 11 7/8 x 39 3/8 x 78 3/4 in. Overall: 11 7/8 x 78 3/4 x 339 1/2 in.

I see some very slight gray markings on the bags, at first I think it's dust -- these are white body bags on a floor after all. I bend closer: it's marble. All at once I get it. This is not just about death, it's about what death brings or more importantly what you do in life. The form:body bags a reminder of our body's mortality. The material: marble a reminder of our life's actions and the potential immortality of our legacy. More importantly it seems to make one question what a country's actions will allow the legacy of those who die for it to be. In that moment, a work which was possibly grotesque, definitely morbid becomes something so beautiful to me. Not only because the craftsmanship is absolutely stunning but because of the gorgeous layered idea behind it. For me the work went from banal to profound in less than a second.

Our lives are so hurried. It's so easy to be content with assumptions and first impressions. I feel like it's easy for us to let ourselves off the hook for not understanding or knowing something when all we really need to do is embrace our inner curiosity. We don't give ourselves enough time to allow ourselves the luxury of being surprised. This exhibit reminded me of that. Despite the extremely adult nature of the show, I felt like a child wandering through the unexplored -- constantly curious, constantly questioning. At the end I walked away feeling refreshed and totally inspired. The simple act of looking closer allowed me the privilege of knowing more. It was wonderful and I loved it.

I should also say that I really loved the curation of the exhibit, Jeff Koons really did a great job. If you haven't seen the Skin Fruit exhibit it will be up until June 6, 2010 - take the time to go check it out.

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