Saturday, September 1, 2007


The world-traveling public art exhibition Coexistence opened up in Davenport this past Thursday night. Many people I've spoke with are considering it a special honor - we're the smallest metro area the show has gone to since its inception 6 years ago. Think about it - Jerusalem... Sarajevo... Cape Town... Quad Cities. Pretty cool. I was particularly looking forward to seeing it because I have a huge interest in peoples' shyness towards modern and contemporary art. If you didn't know, there is a bit of local apprehension about the show. Try as we might, the "cultural barometer" of this area means some aren't always ready for stuff like this. Even if the exhibit is not dangerously graphic or provocative, it still seems to have intimidated some people and caused a bit of fear or anger due to differing opinions or a lack of understanding. Or... well, hell, I suppose I'll go off here... or some people are just being moronic about it. Some local commentators in our online newspapers wrote acerbic rants about "liberal, elitist so-called 'art'" this-and-that. I can understand opinionated commentary on the artwork, or even talking about an over-the-top idealism, but frankly, I think some of these comments come from chicken shit knee-jerk reactions from close minded naysayers. If you have a problem with the "politics" of this show, come on... you've gotta write more eloquently about your stance.

So, enough about that. My wife and I checked the panels out this morning. I actually had a small part in setting up the signs, so I had seen all of them before the official unveiling, but wanted to really take my time looking at things while together, with her, on a non-work day. We both came away with the same thoughts... some panels' artwork was quite poor, some was quite strong. Same thing with the text panels beneath the art - some strong, some poor, and some seemingly placed without any contextual tie to the artwork. So, sometimes things paired up nicely, sometimes poorly. Regardless, we both had a strong emotional reaction to the show as a whole. The people with power around the world have to start understanding we all come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and not everyone worships your god, likes your economic model, agrees with your stance on abortion, etcetera.

Here's some pictures and a few of the quotes from the text panels below the art. Enjoy. Click on images for a larger view. And I have a feeling not many local bloggers read this, but if you come across this via a comment of mine on QCI or Cruiser or somewhere else, please feel free to drop your $.02.

"You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization. And when do you get organization? In a war. Peace is one big waste of equipment. Anything goes, no one gives a damn … I've been in places where they haven't had a war for seventy years and you know what? The people haven't even been given names. They don't know who they are! It takes a war to fix that. In a war, everyone registers."
- Bertold Brecht

"If the heart could think, it would stand still."
-Fernando Pessoa

"The time will come when the sun will shine only upon a world of free men who recognize no master except their reason; when tyrants and slaves, priests, and their stupid or hypocritical tools, will no longer exist except in works of history or on the stage"
- Condorcet

1 comment:

Chao said...

I thought the same thing when I went and saw it last week. Some panels spoke volumes (I'm a librarian, it's the only analogy I know), and some were just kin of ho-hum. Just the fact that it made it to this area is a huge deal and not given enough credit.

And the people that don't "get" the exhibit or that have issues with it, in my opinion, are the same people that think there's nothing wrong with the segregationist, elitist, and ignorant society they live in. Must be a small world for them.