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Even the Museum is Starting a Revolution

This Wednesday I took most of the day off to make my annual visit to the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. (And apologies for not being as attentive on this blog this year. Promises to remedy that over the course of the next several days.)

The museum had a lot of new exhibits on display for the summer, many of them quite political in nature.

The first was a series of performance art and exhibitions called "Xijing is not Xijing, Therefore Xijing is Xijing". It's a collaborative (and ongoing) project by three men who invented this fictitious nation of "Xijiing" and proceeded to completely outline its admission policies, cultural events, government, and even held their own Olympics at the same time as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

It's hard to read the photo below, but it says that entry can be achieved to Xijing by performing a song or dance, or reciting a poem. An explanatory video had lots of detail about what was acceptable and what would result in one's deportation--the video showed two men fighting an anonymous intruder out of the country with leeks...basically it's making a mockery of contemporary immigration policies.

We were also given these patriotic flags to walk around and wave as we went through the exhibits:

Lots of the performance videos had children narrating the governing rules and cultural ceremonies of Xijing. "The city of Xijing must be shaped like a watermelon." "It is better to have an ignorant teacher than a well-educated one." "At birth, a child in Xijing has their name written on their back and then washed away in the river." "Citizens of Xijing have no possessions and therefore are more spiritual." I wish I could remember more of the quotes. Everything sounded so significant on the surface until you realize that nothing has any meaning: none of the rituals or proclamations or anything. Their Olympic Games were also a mockery. Golf, for example, was three women with their phones attached to selfie-sticks "swinging" them and then taking photos of themselves.

Then the exhibit abruptly had this room about power. The balloons dangling from the ceiling looked random until I noticed they said "Lazy Social Dust". (Also that is not a real person--it's made of resin.)

There was also this:

Except it's also fake. It's made of resin. But the number of people who thought it was real (and didn't look at the plaque) was astonishing...
Then there were ink paintings of photos from all the protests around the world last year accompanied by a soundtrack of overlaid chants and traditional songs and military marching music.

That's not to say all the exhibits were that unsettling. There were also just intricate pictures of trees,

or this super giant patchwork quilt-thing,

and a quilt bear that illustrates the story of a flake of snow that transforms into a series of different plants and animals, always trying to find something better, until it returns to being snow,

and this room that made kombucha (a fermented drink) based off the bacteria and carbon dioxide etc. that guests brought into its room (which I have no desire to drink, ever...).

In the evening one of my host family's friends (one of the people on the initial Roadster trip) took me out for dinner with his family and there was this giant tray of sushi:

First sushi I've had this summer, now that I think about it...

Anyways! I pinky promise to update you all very shortly about my research and the ridiculous number of cafes/ coffee shops I've been to. And tomorrow I have an employment meeting with two people from Kanazawa University, so wish me luck!


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