Baggage Claim

Only an immigrant, especially one that has left home in a rush can understand the value of baggage. The exhibition Baggage Claims at the Orlando Museum of Art explores the role of baggage in our lives – baggage is the only thing all our immigrant parents brought with them when they came to this country.

South African artist Dan Halter’s large world map made of cheap woven plastic bags – which serve as baggage to many poor people throughout the world -shows more people are displaced today than at any time in world history; all they have is the baggage they left their homes with.  Refugees from Syria are travelling through continents with their baggage, and with the emotional baggage of leaving their homes under such sad circumstances.

Here a pile of suitcases wait patiently on the floor waiting to be picked up by the owners.  Almost all pieces of art in this exhibition were on the floor – as though they had just been left there briefly by the traveler, while taking a break from carrying them.

Cuban artist Yoan Capote‚Äôs Nostalgia is a brick filled suitcase – perhaps reminding us of the dangerous voyages the people of Cuba have taken across the seas at the risk of drowning to the bottom of the sea with their heavy baggage. Indian artist Subodh Gupta showcases a common piece a luggage used by the weary traveler – a rolled up mattress that can be unrolled for sleeping on, when the traveler gets tired. 

Portable City Chinese artist, Yin Xiuzhen, shows a suitcase which carries an entire beloved city. Pieces like this make one realize how difficult it is for immigrants and refugees to leave their hometowns, not knowing if they will ever see them again.  The bright and cheerful color of the suitcase shows how much the artist loves her city. 

Richard Mosse: Peace Attack

This is an analyis my sister wrote of a piece she saw in a photography exhibition in Winter Park, Florida. Richard Moss is a documentary phographer who gained fame after he documented the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is known for using infrared color film.

“The most striking thing about this piece is its color.  Instead of the black and white image or forest greens that one expects, there is a vibrant and bold pink over the image.  The color is unnatural and artificial – not something one would ever see in this setting.  It takes over the entire piece – and gives it a surreal feeling. I was impressed by the juxtaposition in this artwork – the vibrancy and brightness of the colors are in sharp contrast with the darkness of the subject matter.

The artist has also portrayed layers and depth in this piece – one figure is placed closer to the viewer than the second figure instantly creating a sense of depth.  The sense of layers and depth are heightened by the trees and other foliage in the background.  The overall piece has a sense of depth.  The artist further added to the sense of space by making the viewer try to look into the distance where the two figures seem to be looking.  They are looking in different directions, and the viewer feels a sense of great space and distance by trying to see where the two figures are looking. 

The piece has been anchored by the seated figure, who is not completely centered but is off a little to the left.  The standing figure on the right balances the figure on the left. The horizontal lines in the piece (on which one figure sits and the other one rests) also provides balance to the vertical positions of the two men.”