Sometimes you experience something in NYC and you instantly know the wonder of it all is pure New York. That what has been created could only happen in NYC. Thus it is with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition ‘China – Through The Looking Glass’
How to describe this wonderful exhibition which is once over the top and restrained, decadent and exalted, fashionable and garish and ordianry and sublime. Look at the video and marvel, and if you are not a native New YUorker seriously consider flying in to see it. It will go down as one of the Met’s most famous exhibitions.
It is at once about the riches of the Chinese culture and at the same time the ambivalent way the West embraced that culture. The West tried taking it over, wanting to cherry pick its riches and then discovered that with a culture so vast and deep the West itself was in turn exploited and the Chinese never bowed down to the dictates of the ‘other’.
The Museum uses their own chinese artifacts as a counterpoint to the fashion on show, showing how this ambivalent relationhship between 2 cultures developed. And the fashion itself in the show is both rich, sumptuous and at the same time stark and shocking.
Instead of being confined to the Costume Institution alone which is what would usually happen, the exhibtion extends over over 3 floors allowing an organic knitting together of the museums costumes and its artifacts. And it is framed by films and installations that bring the whole thing together into the messy, complex world of todays relationship between China and America.