All You Need Is LOVE…and the price of admission
In celebration of its 10th year bringing fantastic art to the nocturnal dwellers of Tokyo, the Mori Art Museum is hosting All You Need Is LOVE: From Chagall to Kusama to Hatsune Miku, until Sunday, September 1st. The title of the exhibit let’s anyone know it’s about Love as represented in Art–but what does it all add up to? We sent our favorite art critic Lafaye Lykee aka “Loki” to have a look.
Leave the boyfriend at home?
My partner and I visited the exhibition of love –or should I say, the exhibition of love, family drama and LGBT rights- early Saturday evening last month. To our surprise the art gallery placed at the top of the Mori-building of Roppongi Hills was not as crowded as we expected, while the people that were there mainly consisted of couples (as expected).
Given the name “love” and the authentic use of the color pink, one would imagine from the flyers that the exhibition of love would be about uplifting artworks portraying couples expressing their affection for one another and such. Though, the moment you enter the museum you (and your partner) are thrown into an ongoing maze of intensity not quite as “lovely” as hoped.
The gallery starts out with some modern and contemporary art pieces where the monuments and paintings suggest ideas of love between couples, including what appears to be a gigantic gold foil wrapped chocolate heart.
This shortly vanishes as the themes in the following rooms escalate from couple-love to “lust” and “breakups”. Amidst the awkwardness of it all (given the nudity, vigorous displays of unpleasant breakups and strong adult contents) most couples in the gallery room drifted apart as to view the art pieces solo. My partner and I followed in their footsteps and parted ways too, viewing each work in silent contempt, sometimes amazement, or quiet rapture.
Take care of yourself
One of the most awkward rooms for couples –I thought–was the room dedicated to Sophie Calle’s work titled “Take care of yourself”. The topic of breaking up being openly displayed or talked about is always an odd situation for couples to be in. Without fail, the thought of “Will we ever?” or “When we do..” will cross either one’s mind and create this silent awe (or joy, depending on ones happiness in the relationship) between the two. This was true especially for me and my partner, as we had already previously gone through the break up process before and this is take two in our relationship.
Ms. Calle took the abrupt break up letter sent to her by her former lover, that ends in the words, “take care of yourself” and had artwork created via a series of responses. According to Sophie, if there are 100 different women in a 100 different line of work, then there are 100 different occupation-oriented responses. Quite frankly as a woman I feel that there are less ways of coping, but who am I to know? Apparently to Sophie, a parrot’s response of “ripping up the letter” is also inclusive, so maybe I’m just narrow-minded. It’s a shame Sophie didn’t include a pro-boxer’s response of bashing her man up, that would have definitely scored high on the humorous side of the work–up against the parrot, of course. (Editor’s note: As an unreliable male, after seeing this exhibition I once again reflected on the wisdom of never dating female artists or writing break-up letters. And never ever writing a break-up letter to a female artist.)
Unless you are happily married with three kids and a dog, I strongly advise you do not visit this museum with your partner, partner-to-be or ex-partner. Any man and woman in (or previously in) a relationship should avoid going to the museum together from a ten-mile radius or you and your date will go through an uncomfortable viewing for the first half of the exhibition. It may turn out to be your last date—ever.
You Will Wonder What “Love” Means For More Than 30 Seconds
There are some fun moments in the exhibit. “You Will Be Possessed By Love In 30 Seconds”
The second half, completely off topic –so it seemed to me–, goes into global problems such a racial difference, LGBT rights and family drama. If only the brochure included these topics somewhere in fine printing, the audience would not be so surprised that they suddenly found themselves in difficult contemporary world-issues. Assuming that most visitors came hoping that the featured artists of brilliance would put “love” “hope” and “joy” into shape through art, the exhibit largely betrays all expectations. Perhaps the gallery feeds off the vast possibility of ideas and imaginations that can be extracted from the simple word such as “love”. And maybe one of the problems is that the word “love” has so many meanings, that we aren’t always talking about “love” when we talk about love. We need more words, better words for it.
In hindsight, the best advise I can give to anyone thinking of visiting the museum is not to expect any standard correlation between the artwork and the theme. To have a broad perspective and wide acceptance of anything that will get thrown in your direction as “art related to love” will definitely enhance the experience.
Nevertheless, the exhibition was an eye-opener to understand how differently people conceptualize the word “love”. To some it is courtship and romance, to others it is passion and intimacy; some artists associate it with interracial, homosexual and gender relations and family relations. Some even express their “love” for the world and the environment through their works, rather than it being just an inter-people phenomenon.
How many different ways could you think of this simple, popularized and overused word? Well, perhaps the answer would be one thing you do gain out of this exhibit on your visit. After all not everyone can relate solely to a couple-relationship, but since the artwork and the takes on love are so broad, maybe you would find the form of “love” you’re in or wish to be in.