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Seeing Art In A Curated Exhibition

2179 words - 9 pages

Wilfred Bion (1897-1979), a great British psychoanalyst, formulated the object relations theory, which informs us that through repeated experiences in our environment we form internalized images of objects, and those images would be later on reshaped and transformed by other experiences we may have. In this theory objects are people, or rather our internalized images of the people we have come in contact with in our lives. How we relate to these images, and reshape them to accommodate our shifting perceptions constantly changing the whole, is a demonstration of our tolerance to ambiguity (Greenberg and Mitchell). Bion also said that a psychoanalyst should approach each session with his ...view middle of the document...

Even without reading any of the placards, or even the large mural at the opening of the exhibition, it was clear that the works presented were not the product of s single artist’s mind. Beyond the variations in medium there was variation in style and aesthetic choices. Some works I could infer were the product of the same artist. The relationship between the pieces and why they were arranged the way they were was not clear to me. I thought the works to be very uneven in appeal, some commanding more attention than others.
Because of the layout of the gallery the exhibition was split into two floors, the first floor was where we entered the show and the second floor was one level down accessible by stairs. I liked the second floor way more than the first one. It was even smaller but it had fewer pieces per square inch and the pieces there seemed more apt to creating a narrative with each other. Like on the floor above it, there were two small screens playing films, in front of one of them the only place to sit in the entire gallery was located. Not by accident the four pieces that caught my attention were situated in this floor.
The first two pieces were small rectangular collages, sitting side by side, facing the stairs and clearly visible as you descended them. One was green and the other one greenish beige in color, they were similar in style and reminded me of hieroglyphics of some sort. One seemed familiar somehow but I had no immediate idea of why. The last two pieces were also side by side in the last room of the exhibition. One was a vertically arranged painting showing a dense green background that reminded me of a forest with two figures on the forefront arranged to the right of the canvas. The larger figure was a woman with a top hat holding a torch with a pink men partially concealed behind her wearing cat ears and black underpants. This pink figure reminded me of a super hero. The last painting was also a collage mix featuring a woman with a dog against the backdrop of green plants. Her long skirt, coat and hat were made of collage elements and the whole scene was framed by an art deco element painted into the canvas. These last two pictures also had some familiarity to me and again I had no idea why.
In his 1972 BBC series, and accompanying book, “Ways of Seeing” John Berger (Berger) presents the central idea that the way we see things defines the meaning of an image, and our way of seeing is affected by our experiences, education and psychological background. Berger is then refuting the idea that its possible for us to see an image without bringing to bear on it our beliefs, life experiences and what we have been taught to believe. It was clear to me, after my experience in the gallery, that even though I attempted to negate the influence of my personal baggage on the works I was seeing my attempts fell short. I have to agree with Berger, and with Bion, that we do have internalized images inside of us that come to bear on the...

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