Thursday, June 4, 2015

'Pacific Worlds' at the Oakland Art Museum, Brash Contemporary.. and more

Some fascinating art from the Museum's collection along with a lot of finger-waging one-sided blame which got more than a bit tiresome. The show's labels read like a current version of "all evil comes from the West" but was redeemed by the art created by the various cultures of the Pacific.

I got so annoyed with the lecturing tone of the panels that I was probably sharper than I would have otherwise been. I also realized that the panels were written with info from our local Pacific Islander community - which, like many communities of color has felt ignored.

But I also thought - how do you get people to listen? SHOUT at those who are already on your side about how evil their ancestors were? Or explain, enlighten, make others share in your delight in your culture so that we all work to protect what's left.

One of the serious questions that needs to be asked about exhibits like this is - who are they for? The art speaks for itself but the marketing, outreach and most of all, the tone of the wall texts are going to turn many off without enlightening those who genuinely don't know about the impact of Western expansion on the cultures of the Pacific. 

There were hordes of teenagers in the Museums. Oakland is mostly black and brown and very much lower and working class. The kids were not the least bit interested in the exhibit - except for the weapons of war. I would have walked past them except for the boys clustered around the war clubs, getting all excited at the potential damage they could have done.

Somebody should do a war game video using objects from the Pacific Cultures; it's bound to be a hit and could be a great teaching tool. 

Brash continues its exploration of contemporary magic realism; it's a delight to see all the unique visions of fantasy worlds along with the superb technical skills.

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