This past Friday was by far the classiest and most sophisticated night we have had here so far. We actually mingled with the cultured social lites of Oxford.
We, at CMRS, decided that we needed to class it up for this night of sophistication. The girls all wore their fanciest dresses even thought the events of the night did not warrant this level of dressing up. But I just love dressing up! I brought a black cocktail dress with me, hoping to find some sort of classy occasion to whip it out and Friday was that night.
A bunch of us have been meaning to go to the Oxford Modern Art Museum, which is about two blocks away from us. Friday night the museum hosted an after-hours event, which was the perfect time for our museum debut. Even though we convinced ourselves this was some spectacular swanky event, it really only meant that the museum would open later, have tours of exhibits, and offer some sort of workshop. And…it was free!
We walked into the café part of the museum: the lights were turned down low, a DJ was playing some ballin music, and people were sitting at tables with friends drinking cocktails. It was a really relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. We had expected to be ridiculously dressed up for this occasion, because these wore our classiest outfits, but in reality what we consider fancy, most people consider standard attire. I browsed the artwork on the first floor pretending like I understood the deeper meaning of a piece of wood with cut-out circles and squares.
However, I was not prepared for the upstairs exhibit.
A Guatemalan woman had used movies as the medium for her expression of modern art. But the videos were not artsy or trippy in and of themselves; they were amateur productions and it looked like some one had taken a tiny camera and recorded these videos. The lights were dim and three videos were projected on different walls and people turned to watch different ones. The videos were fairly repetitive and lacked serious action or plot (so I’m not sure how exactly they were art...they seemed to be about making statements-but is that art? Bahhh the concept of modern art is so difficult for me to comprehend). But I’ll let you be the judge of their artistic qualities.
1st video- A woman, I think the artist, was in the middle of town, hanging by a cable 30ish feet above the street. She wore a huge white plastic bag and she resembled an angel(I’m not sure if that was intentional). She was reading from a book of poetry (I think) and when she finished reading a page, she threw it into the street. She attracted a lot of attention and by the end of the video a large crowd had formed around her and whenever she dropped a sheet of paper, people frantically tried to grab it like it was a piece of money. This whole charade went on for a good 30 minutes. It was literally just her dangling and throwing down paper.
2nd video- A slim naked woman (I’m pretty sure not the artist) was being assessed by a plastic surgeon in the middle of a park. He was drawing all the marks on her where he found fat or imperfections. By the end of the 30-minute long video this slim woman who I thought had a great body was covered in ink. I’m pretty certain that this was a commentary on the world’s perception of the perfect body and the ridiculousness of that pursuit…but is it art?
3rd video- A woman (I think the artist) was walking through town. She was carrying a bowl of red liquid, symbolizing blood (though it may have actually been blood, you never can tell with artists) and every couple steps she would stop to dip her feet in the red liquid. She created a trail of bloody footprints through the town as a protest of someone being elected to office who would cause hardship. But literally the entire video was her walking through town and every couple steps dipping her feet in the blood. It got repetitive real quick. She was making a statement and raising awareness in a pretty graphic way: bloody footprints. It was such a gripping and compelling image. But are all protests art forms?
Despite the lack of artistic quality in producing these films, I was mesmerized by them. I could not stop watching these repetitive videos. I began thinking about body image as I watched the plastic surgeon point out flaws I didn’t notice on this woman who might have worn a size 2. The idea of body image is something on which our culture is fixated; it is emotionally, physically, and mentally unhealthy. People are on a quest of having this perfect body, which is unattainable. If you are seeking some sort of lasting physical perfection, you will not find it because our bodies are constantly changing, evolving and ultimately decaying. But so many people enter into impossible, frustrating, and self-degrading pursuits where physical perfection becomes an addiction; it’s so sad because they are never entirely satisfied with themselves. We are inundated with images of the “perfect” bodies on TV, in magazines, on the internet, but I’m pretty sure that most people with these tremendous bodies are not satisfied…they don’t see themselves the way the rest of us do. They have the plastic surgeon’s eyes, focusing on every flaw. But then what’s the point of having a great body anyway if we can never be satisfied with it?
After the upstairs video exhibit, we went to the basement to watch a documentary on the history of skateboarding, which was a much lighter film than the previous ones. It was an American film-hoorah! It was a great documentary full of humor, old videos, and epic action scenes; it reminded me of the surfing documentary Endless Summer.
I looked around the packed room and realized that I was surrounded by the trendiest people I have ever seen in my life. Seriously think of the classiest, trendiest people you can imagine and that was who I got to share a room with. I felt so swanky, sitting in an art museum, watching a documentary, with artsy people. But I hardly see these people in regular-day life on the streets of Oxford, they only come out to gather at trendy events…obviously. Also I was really surprised that there were significantly more guys in the room than girls. I’m pretty sure that our 10 girls from CMRS comprised a third of the ladies in the room, no joke.
Basically ladies: If you are trying to scope out some trendy, good looking, artsy guys in their 20s then I would encourage you to hit up late nights at art museums. These kids of guys run rampant there.
We unfortunately had to leave the documentary early because we had another swanky engagement…a play about art. The back-to-back art-themed events were purely coincidence, I promise.
Interestingly enough the play was called Squirrels and written by an American playwright. It was a one-act play, in a small theater, maybe holding an audience of 40 and luckily, we got front row seats. And by that I mean we were practically on stage and had an extreme close-up view of the actors.
It was a humorous three-character play, lasting slightly under an hour and a half. It was about art and writing and how a couple writers are struggling to write a great novel. The acting was great and I really enjoyed it.
This was a certified swanky event because after the play let out, I found myself standing next to Susan from The Chronicles of Narnia. Yeah I mean no bigs, just my first celebrity sighting in Oxford. I’m planning on running into Harry Potter next.