Law and Disorder
Curated by Xinyi Ren
Artists: Chang Yun Han, Esperanza Mayobre
Opening Reception: Thursday, November 2, 7:00 - 9:00 pm
November 2 – November 15, 2017
CP Projects Space, 132 West 21st Street, 10th floor, New York, NY
Monday - Friday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, weekends by appointment
CP Projects Space at the School of Visual Arts is pleased to present Law and Disorder, curated by MA Curatorial Practice fellow Xinyi Ren. This two-person exhibition, featuring the artists Chang Yun Han (Taiwan) and Esperanza Mayobre (Venezuela), discusses possibilities for acute social and political critique through absurdity or ridiculousness in art.
Law and disorder features three artworks that address ideological issues such as ideal beauty, immigration barriers, and racial discrimination. In Plastic Surgery Project (2013), Chang Yun Han examines the social ideal of physical beauty by raising the fictional question—how would the Venus de Milos change her appearance according to today’s standards, if she could? Chang’s other piece, Have You Ever Dreamed of This Place (2017), is a multimedia installation that references the 1986 animated film An American Tail, the story of a family of Jewish mice who emigrated to America from Russia in the late nineteenth century. Chang superimposes iconic screenshots from the film on foreign-language newspaper pages she found in New York, highlighting the subtle contrasts between the immigrant’s dream of coming to the United States and the reality they encountered here. Immigration issues are also a concern of the artist Esperanza Mayobre, whose works toy with personal and sacred images. In E$peranza (2004, 2017), the artist concretizes the financial debt owed by Third World countries, and in a ceremonial gesture substitutes her own image in place of national symbols. In Immigration Services (2005), her image is once again superimposed as a holy figure, this time a fictitious deity created to bless immigrants.
In The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera remarked, “Things deprived suddenly of their supposed meaning, of the place assigned to them in the so-called order of things, make us laugh.” The laughter referred to here is not one of happiness or entertainment, but rather the involuntary outburst upon realizing the absurdity of one’s reality. In Kundera’s reality of totalitarianism, the power of ideology lay in the shared imagination of a unitary, perfect world. To him, the laughter of ridiculousness had the power to pierce through the grand illusion and illuminate the bleakness of reality. Decades later, with advances in communication technologies, our reality is threatened instead by the crisis of increased segregation and individuals’ retreat into political-ideological bubbles. Perhaps the ridiculous can recognize a new social function—bridging gaps in our society and bringing together vastly different communities.