austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Sit down, John! Sit down, John!

Surprisingly belatedly, I visited one of the Biennale venues. I didn't know what to expect from the exhibit in City Hall. City Hall is the classical-style building in which, until recently, the Supreme Court met, and it's also where the Japanese formally surrendered their southeast Asian forces. It's on the gazette of national monuments, of course, and there's a circular plaque outside a front door reading ``City Hall -- On Sunday 9 July 2006 -- He entered this building -- He filled its interior with pheromones.'' Apparently that's enough of an explanation for them. And that's not even getting into the Biennale events.

The Biennale events are various displays of public art, and they're willing to draw from all over the world for it. For example was two digital animations from Jeon Joonho, who created a cute piece called ``The White House''. The background is the line-art White House from the back of the US $20 bill. A figure enters from the left, sets up a ladder, and takes out a roller brush. While birds chirp in the background, he gets to painting over and whiting out all the windows. According to the information clip the whole thing runs 32 minutes 16 seconds. I assume there's more to it than just painting, but I only caught the ending of one loop and the start of the next, and cute as that was I wasn't going to spend over a half hour watching just this.

Another Jeon piece was called ``In God We Trust'', and it's only a couple of minutes long. It starts with that line art etching of the US Treasury from the 1920s based on the cars in it (I don't know where it's from, but I know it's famous as pictures of the Treasury go), where a figure walks in and asks the way to Independence Hall from the pedestrians in the picture. Unfortunately, the pedestrians, being line art from the 1920s, don't answer despite his repeated and frustrated pleas for directions to Independence Hall. Shift to the presentation of the Declaration of Independence as in John Trumbull's painting on the back of the US $2 bill, where the figure -- taking John Adams's place -- makes a stirring declaration of independence for Korea (from Japan, I suppose, although he's not that specific). After declaring Korea's hopes for the future and for reclaiming its own destiny, we switch to the picture of Independence Hall from the back of the US $100 bill, as he opens the door, steps out, stretches, looks around, and exits stage left.

By the door of the hall showing this was a little basket with Biennale pins. I wasn't sure whether this was part of the exhibit or not, or whether it was safe to take them, and I waited for two other people to take pins and not be yelled at before I took one. And I haven't even mentioned the strange exhibits, with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody or the rubber gloves yet.

Trivia: By the end of 1942 about a third of all printed material mailed to US military bases was comic books. Source: Men of Tomorrow, Gerard Jones.

Currently Reading: The Great Game, John Steele Gordon.


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