Reflections on the White Rabbit Gallery exhibition
White Rabbit’s newest opening is a thought provoking spectrum that spans all the way from pure disgust up to unadulterated delight and innocence. It’s one hell of a ride. It’s a three level gallery space, and so for the sake of brevity and sanity, I’ll be recounting my favourite works from the collection.
The opening piece is almost cathedral like in its physical appearance — a place of worship for the arcade aesthetic. Inside is five screens, each dedicated to a character that bounces, poses, attacks, and entices a strong nostalgia for Street Fighter mixed with Asian deities. Lu Yang’s piece is an ode to art, religion, and science, and it’s absolutely brilliant. I only wish it was an entire building and not an installation.
It’s impressive and fun, and sets you up for a shock when you go upstairs, as it turns out this piece is a standalone that doesn’t lead into anything else. It’s a great piece to start on though!
Upon reading the official description of the work, it’s just a reminder to myself that art can be seen so many different way. White Rabbit questions the works intentions through the framing of humans and gods, whereas I had a more simplistic view from a generational frame. What are we willing to give to become one of these digital “gods”, even if becoming one just means sitting in front of a screen each day. Do we really worship them or do we envy them in a “the grass is always greener” way.
On level one there are two photographs inside their own enclosures — rooms without doors and only a narrow strip cut out for you to look inside the space. I thought this was really interesting as a curatorial decision because as someone who is taller than the average person, I would personally experience something different compared to an average height person, and again compared to a below average height person. The photographs are very different from each other and I do prefer the first one. It’s a bit more “editorial” and I think when the two are juxtaposed against each other it stands out more.
An all orange room is minimally filled with CRT TVs displaying whimsically sexual animations by Nimue. It’s light, it’s delightful. This wasn’t too thought provoking for me, more just fun, but I think it’s a really good example of video art.
Some of the animations include a vagina that becomes a mouth, breasts that squeeze lemons onto a head, and a penis handshake. The fact that while they are digitally animated the works started out as paintings makes it even more whimsical in my opinion. I feel like it would take longer to complete the initial image as a painting than as a digital painting, and I can’t help but imagine the process of painting these kinds of images as absurdly funny.
I also find this next piece hilarious, though it’s probably insensitive of me to do so. The work is incomplete, but that’s also what makes it what it is.
Xiao Lu is a performance artist, and the work shown is the props from an unsuccessful performance where she attempted to collect sperm samples from the public. She wanted to inseminate herself with these samples but didn’t get a single volunteer.
Lu honestly just sounds like a hoot. Could you imagine hanging out with her? It would be wild, much like this artwork.
Guggen’ Dizzy, below, is so many things depending on which angle you look at it.
At first glance and from a distance they’re kind of like paper umbrellas, spinning slowly as you would if you were taking a leisurely stroll with a parasol. The vibrancy of the colours also shifts depending on how close you are or how much of an angle you’re viewing from. The one I liked the most was actually furthest right in the above picture, when viewed front on it’s quite pastel and pretty.
But it’s also a work that makes you come back after you’ve left, because it just doesn’t look right. Or more accurately, your eyes can’t see what it really is. The discs are made up of 20,000 tickets to the Guggenheim with coloured tape on the edges to make the patterns.
The biggest question this raised for me is “where do you get 20,000 Guggenheim tickets from”, cue image of an arcade game malfunctioning and spitting out tickets.
What at first looks like a magical feminine bedroom installation very quickly is revealed to be a sex fuelled fairy tale. The phallic protrusions from all parts of the furnishings in the room sing Girl Power.
I really think it’s missing a vanity to really tie the bedroom together, and forgive me for this suggestion, but a seat at the vanity for a photo op would go off on Instagram. I dunno, this work just really had me going “fuck yeah”.
The largest painting in terms of scale is Zhiying’s High Seas, and it is magnificent. I am sad to say the only way I could get a photo of the whole piece was at this angle. I hope I made up for it with the detail shot because it’s incredibly beautiful. There’s always a piece that demands to be seen in person and from Hot Blood, this is it.
The oil paints are built up, scraped away, and the process repeated to give one effect when you look up close and a totally different one when you’re standing far enough to take the whole thing in at once.
Zhiying says the work was inspired by seeing the west coast of America from a clifftop for the first time and feeling a sense of profound insignificance. I think the work captures this really well.
Last but not least from my selections of Hot Blood is Cui Jie’s Crane’s House 3. It’s a mix of architecture and public art from Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. I just find it so delightful to look at, and with so mucy style. There’s such a mix of textures, from what looks like wood block printing in the sky to the very modern crane and the 90s building behind it. The hybrid styles reflect the hybridity of the cities that are so quickly built and merged.