Friday 19 April 2013

'Exposed: An Exhibition' by Leigh Bunkin

I hang by my neck, from an alabaster cord, swaying in the air-conditioned breeze of the museum. My insides trail out of me, leaving a pile of paper excrement on the floor. The guard’s laughter echoes through the high ceilinged rooms, signaling that it is morning.
I watch as the first tour of the day is provided by a docent in a sleek navy dress and white open-toed sandals. Thick plump pearls hug her neck. Straight black bobbed hair swings like a curtain at each toss of her head.
A group of people gather around a head that lies in the middle of the floor. Strands of milky, paper noodles surround the exposed skull. “As you can see this is a very unusual show. This head, for instance. The instructions from the artist were to display it on the floor. You can try it on--not really--just kidding. Remember don’t touch anything in the exhibit.
The crowd follows her to the next body, which like most of us in the exhibit, is thumb-tacked to the wall. This flimsy paper body has a chain of paper loops dangling between her legs. Her arms hang lifeless, empty breasts dangle.  “Oh my, now this is interesting. The idea behind this piece is that we are chained to the skin we have and if we don’t like it--well too bad! Play the hand you are dealt.”
“Watch out. Please walk around the bones.”
Next the group stands in front of half a body. “In this piece the artist shows her concern about the issue of how children are treated in our society. Is the baby dead or sleeping? What do you think?” She is greeted by blank stares as they look at the deflated paper baby dangling from a chalky umbilical cord. “No questions? Let’s move on.”
The next woman hangs pinned by her hair. Her circulatory system, a mass of blood red ribbons, cascades out of her body to the floor. Silver tears streak her cheeks.
Next they are looking at a picture of our creator on the wall. “This is a self portrait of the artist. She makes these pictures by laying her head and hair on a copy machine.  There’s a portrait of her hair. She’s quite into hair. You can see how pretty she is, but don’t forget, the point of the whole show is that beauty is only skin deep.”
The next wall is completely covered with sheets of eyes, our eyes, tinted blue, brown, green. “Now this piece represents the fact that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Nice, very nice.”
“Are there any questions? Well, if not, then this is the end of our tour today. Please feel free to look about on your own.”
The group scatters, huddling in smaller groups, whispering among themselves. The air-conditioned breeze ruffles our eyes enabling us to observe them watching us, as we envy the bodies they still have.

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