What We Feel and What We Mean
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The Brooklyn Museum

ok. so I’m just going to put this out there- I didn’t really appreciate “The Dinner Table” as much as I’m assuming I was supposed to be. I found it somewhat vulgar. I appreciate the fact that something so unconventional is titled “the dinner table” which is the iconic image of the typical familial structure against which the said exhibit is “protesting”. The motif of a family sitting around a dinner table, hands folded in their laps, awaiting the father’s leadership, either in prayer, or just plain eating, comes clearly to mind when I think of a dinner table. It’s representative of a formal and rigid structure. And the exhibit exuded this quiet solemness, only not in acknowledgement of this social structure but in appreciation of those who have struggled against it, so to speak. Unless I’m completely off (which is entirely possible), I see this and I still didn’t think it was beautiful. Strange, yes. I realize that’s my personal opinion, so no offense meant to anyone who does like it.

I’ve also been realizing that part of experiencing art is not only about the location in which it is seen but also about the people with whom it is seen. It’s a different experience to stand alone at the Met as part of a huge crowd, admiring the artwork that visiting the said museum with a friend, or a family member, or a tour guide. That being said, I had a great time exploring with Sylvia, Christina, and Aniqa.

My favorite exhibit was the period rooms. The displays mimic the psychological reality of the way people view events external to them. They (we) tend to place ourselves in the center of the action, whether we’re watching a movie or listening to a friend’s story and the period rooms allow for that in a real sense. Granted, it would be much cooler to be able to walk into the rooms and sit on the chairs, but one could get close enough to really imagine what it looked and felt like.

I can’t recall who made it but I also really liked the “piano in the tree” exhibit. I’m not entirely certain what the point is but I like it. The adjoining “man dressing up as clown” adjacent exhibit was not so appealing, though it was powerful. It’s a strong statement about racism- the black man putting on white face paint, dressing up like a clown. The fake “neon” smile is iconic to the clown, and to the frustrated African Americans who felt (feel) as if they were (are) being made to wear a mask of white dominance. It was pointed and disturbing. It reminded me of the Joker from the Batman movie. Which might have been the point….

On a general note, I really appreciated that nothing was behind glass (or at least, most exhibit weren’t). It’s refreshing and it made me feel like I had a right to be walking around and looking, almost like admiring the nice artifacts a person might have in his home, displayed for his guests to see. I suppose I felt like I was being treated like “a big kid” who doesn’t have to look from behind glass and can be trusted to appreciate and not destroy what s/he is seeing.


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