Following their visit to the Rubell Family Collection on February 2nd, 2018, the FIU Honors students of Aesthetics & Values 2017-2018 shared their voices and opinions through photographs and personal reflections.
I visited the Rubell Family Collection last week with my fellow peers. The art pieces in that museum were one of kind, but there was one work in particular that caught my eye. There was clear trash bag with a mannequin of a woman inside of it. She looked distraught, abandoned, and crying for help. I could not help but feel that this artwork symbolizes the oppression that women have been facing for a long time. Even today, women face sexism and inequality in the work force, as many of them are taken advantage of others.
I stand with women. Women are one of the strongest (if not the strongest) people on Earth. Our mothers are women. Our grandmothers and aunts are women. They have the willpower to carry children and give birth to them, which is considered one of the most painful things a person will ever endure. People should learn to cherish women and all of their hard work and contributions to their workplace, families, and society as a whole. Women should not be treated like trash, not ever. They are vital to everyone’s life. A woman brought me into this world, and for that I am grateful!
Here I lay, As vulnerable as the next. Victims Of mass layoffs. Once indispensable, but now As disposable as the weekly trash. The stench Of despair and pity Fill this emptiness I feel. How quickly an invaluable asset Can be replaced or discarded. Kicked to the curb so cold-heartedly, Just as if they were taking out the garbage. Done without concern or regard To how it would affect me and my life. Escorted out of the building with security, As if I were a criminal. My badge taken as if My last 25 years of loyalty Meant nothing. Stripped of my identity, but The company could care less. With money on their mind, They rather dispose of valuable employees To make an extra dollar Or two. This money game-world we live in, It is almost an addiction. Unfortunately, layoffs are as contagious As the flu. They even have their own season too. As we strive to do our best, We must be ready Because we may be next week’s trash.
I got to Rubell tired and grumpy and beat down from a long week and post-apocalyptic traffic. I was ready to check out and pretend to be dazzled by art. I was ready to roll my eyes at Bailly snapping at the class to force out questions. Then Allison Zuckerman’s room happened. And her obnoxiously large and stunning canvases would not agree to be ignored. I quickly got lost in her collision of droopy renaissance boobs, pasted-on googly-like eyes, and obscure Disney characters. I was easily heartbroken by Josh Kline’s Joann, alone on the floor, covering her heart with her knees. Andro Wekua’s unnamed cyborg girl reminded me of all the things I lose when I check out, convincing myself that I’m too tired for life. By the time we got to Liu Chuang’s room of belongings, I was properly convinced that I was a sour, dried up, rotten grape. I’ve never stared so hard at things that came out of someone’s pockets. Things that meant nothing to me, but were priceless to someone on the other side of the world…priceless until they could no longer afford to call anything “without a price”. My heart felt thick when I had to sneak out early. Rushing towards my next obligation.
My experience at the Rubell Collection was interesting, to say the least. My professor always talks about how he wants to make his students uncomfortable. He wants to show us the raw realities of life through art. The art I witnessed at the Rubell Collection definitely accomplished that. So many of the artworks were partially disturbing, but in the most beautiful of ways. This piece, for example, was relatively hard to look at. The actual artwork was a fully naked 3-D print of a man. A man whom had apparently been friends with the artist. The figure had a silver tint, which made each crevice within the piece stand out. Every single wrinkle, deformity, and indent was detectable on this piece. To be honest, if I would not have been at an art studio, I would have probably thought the art piece was a real being. So real it made me uneasy. So I decided to make myself and the viewers of this picture even more uncomfortable by taking the closest and most up front picture possible. That way, everyone can see just how intricate this piece of art really is. If you did not know where this picture came from, would you think it was a real man painted in silver? If your answer is yes, how could you deny the potential of art? How could anyone say that art is unimportant or of serving no purpose? THIS IS ART. Art is more real than we think. Art is up, close, AND personal. That’s something the Rubell Collection taught me. That’s how I will remember my experience there.
Walking through the Rubell Collection, I saw so many pieces of art that challenged the norms of what art is and isn’t, all echoing Duchamp’s manifesto.
However, this one series from Liu Chuang, Buying Everything on You, addressed the art of found objects in an entirely different light that was reminiscent of our previous semester’s reading: American Psycho.
That is the idea of “postmodernism” in which the individual does not exist but is an abstraction of all the materials that make us who we think we are.
All these fragments of Guo Weixun are no longer Weixun, but a haunting past on display that once embodied the construct of Weixun.
Shirt, pants, underwear, toothbrush…are all clinically arranged, bought from the owner. Aside from the underwear, the most chilling parts of the piece were the identification photos, credit cards, and license that were easily distinguishable.
Based on the Shanzhai phenomenon of mass-produced imitation goods, Chuang mass-produced individuals like Weixun to bring awareness to this sense of absurdity.
This is the idea of which these individuals once were, in an open time capsule at the Rubell Collection welcoming everyone to see the irony of our lives and economic disparity.
A slender figure, professional fashion, and curious wisdom- you’ll succeed undoubtedly, they said. Little did they know that the world was slowly deteriorating her life, gnawing at her self-esteem and toying with her mind. Like everyone thought, she was able to find a job. Not just any job, however, but something she could make a career out of. Her boss was rather wealthy, and everyone was fond of him too. His voice was like music to his worker’s ears, but this kind of music she did not like. His deep pitch bellowed throughout the crowd, piercing even the deafest of ears. He found her seemingly uninterested demeanor attractive. He played with her heart strings, till one day she decided enough was enough. She confronted him and made it clear to everyone that he had breached the line between co-workers and lovers, except she did not want to be part of the latter. Don’t be so dramatic, they said. She insisted, yet eventually succumbed to external pressures. Events escalated, and he became more persistent, not taking no for an answer. Just go with him, they said. Ultimately, his violence consumed her and to drown the pain, she curled up in a ball until her body had been placed in a bag like any other corpse. Well, she was asking for it, they said.
Where does one take their place in the grand span of time? Does its unforgiving wheel leave us lingering in between, or shall we begin a revolution anew? The stories of the greats taunt us from their books. Our perceived incompetence leaves us in eternal confusion as we always look to what could be, to what we cannot yet do. Our dreams race far ahead of us, reaching for floating cities and global consciousness. Yet, here we remain only dreaming and only wishing, more cynical and terrified than before, placing our happiness on what we can’t reach.
As such frustrations are released through our unrestrained power of creation, the ambiguity of the world in our future becomes suffocating. We fear when we see it before us, for our ancient instinct cannot understand. The beings of metal and plastic loom around us at every turn. Their clear artificiality is our reality. The Rubell metal-child, the living fake statues, the broken conversations of a computer’s code – our human nature recoils. One day, we may not create the code, but the code will create us. Will one even have a place in the grand span of time?
Do you know my name?
¿Sabes mi nombre?
As I pass you in the halls, pushing my livelihood
Cuando te paso por los pasillos, empujando mi sustento
While you enjoy clean office spaces and hefty checks
Mientras disfruta de espacios de oficinas limpios y cheques pesados
As my lungs and skin crack and burn from chemicals
A medida que mis pulmones y mi piel se agrietan y queman por químicos
As my joints and bones creak and swell
Como mis articulaciones y huesos crujen y se hinchan
While I live hand to mouth as you enjoy another company lunch
Mientras vivo de la mano mientras disfrutas de otro almuerzo de la compañía
I am just ghost slaving away
Solo soy un fantasma trabajando como un esclavo
As I wither away, you will never notice
A medida que me marchito, nunca lo notarás
Because once I am gone,
Porque cuando me vaya
Another just like me will do the same
Otro igual que yo hará lo mismo
And they will also wonder
Y también se preguntarán
Do you know my name?
¿Sabes mi nombre?
A&V 2017-2018 Student Gallery from Rubell Family Collection
Isabella Marie Garcia