Following their visit to the Rubell Family Collection on August 30th, 2018, the FIU Honors students of Art Society Conflict 2018-2019 shared their voices and opinions through photographs and personal reflections.
Sleek blue Juliana,
ancestor of my ancestors,
play a song of gold for me,
tell me your story.
Tell me of your creation,
are you the chalice or the blade?
Are you woman, or just another
piece in someone’s collection,
a hobby, a pastime.
Are they not both the same?
you are not of this time,
but not of that one either
floating in a space that exists
on the second floor of a once ago
You are not royal queen
yet you don’t dare be common.
Juliana, tell me of the emptiness
in your eyes. What secret
weighs down thick braids,
color of our ancestors.
Will you ever be valid
or worthy of more
than to simply exist?
Just lay there, Juliana,
I never meant to make you
Lay there and bask,
you’re more than the wax carcass
of a woman.
You are a symphony of color,
you are the resistance–
As if four walls in an art collection
Could ever hold you.
Art reflects the time passed by humans on this earth; the mark of the human. The Rubell Family Collection in Wynwood features a lot of art, but not all necessarily made by humans. Still Human created a platform for viewers to contemplate the relationship of humans with our near addiction to technology and its advances. What will we be in the future? How ‘human’ will we still be? The pieces exhibited ranged from classically inspired sculptures, like Frank Benson’s Juliana Prototype, to modern ideas realized using traditional methods; like Andro Wekua’s Untitled. Our lady Juliana is very classical in composition; she emanates the Greco-Roman Hermaphroditus, but her flesh resembles that of an Acura. She was basically created with car parts and 3D scanning technology. Her stoic classicism is now shadowed by the materiality and politics of the 21st century. Wekua’s instillation looks like something that one expects to see in a contemporary art gallery. The viewer walks into a pink-carpeted, white-walled room solely inhabited by a floating young girl clad in athletic gear. Dormant–yet plugged into a computer. Miss. Untitled is slightly more classic in conspection with her poured and casted metal shoes; the same process used to make bronze statues and ritual pieces well before the AD era. We are at a turning point as a species. We are either going to be erased and replaced by our own technological advances or return to our humanistic tactile approaches. Still Human implies that we are aware of our crossroads yet are already seeking validation as a natural species.
Ever since I was a little girl and even now, I have always thought of my jewelry as some of the belongings that are closest to my heart. Gold beaded bracelets with birthstones, plastic earrings from Claire’s, a Tiffany bracelet given on my sixteenth birthday. Yet I wonder how would they feel on a table as representation of me? Haunted and hollow? Cold and incomplete? Brimming with memories? Chinese artist Liu Chang’s project Buying Everything On You (2009) captured such perplexities in its showing at the Rubell. His project is the result of him offering to purchase everything on people he would meet on the street, completely unplanned. What was collected included pieces as intimate as underwear and objects as routine as lipgloss. Although physical and ephemeral, these items when together held much more than their space. While walking through the exhibit, I felt the spirits of the sellers of these items. I felt their desperation and I felt their burden. In ways, the project felt exploitative and others quite emotional. It left me with many answers and it left me with a question.
We are skin, we are silk, we are gold. We are paper, we are flesh, we are blood. We are love, we are soul, we are fear. We are tears. We are stars. We are sun.
We are so many things, yet who are we?
There is no denying the effect that this piece had on every single person who stepped barefoot on that pink carpet. No doubt about it. The white, empty room against the pink bubblegum carpet was immersive enough to bring your eyes to focus on her. I immediately felt an eerie sensation, with cables attached to her back and a robotic arm that almost gives off the appearance that she has been engulfed by a world where she is both connected and disconnected. She appeared stuck, helpless, yet her face expression was unbothered. I was at odds with myself
The untitled work by Andro Wekua comments on a reality that we are all aware of, an existence we all very well understand: the emergence of a virtual revolution.
As she hangs by the glass, right in the center of the room beneath the bright pink carpet that accentuates the innocence within her, a last speck of life is seen as her fingers flicker. She can’t escape, she is stuck. She is not alive, or at least she is not living. She hangs almost as a warning to onlookers; as if she was placed there to warn us about not giving in, to not indulge in that world. To not connect and be pulled up to the clouds because there might not be a way back down. No way back to reality.
… or could I be wrong?
Could it be that my reality is slowly becoming more of a fantasy as it smothers away at the wake of this revolution? I have always thought of myself as someone who isn’t attached to a screen; Always trying to see the world through my own eyes instead of lenses. But as I stood looking at her expression, disregarding the restless position she was placed in, she almost appears peaceful. Maybe she is not helpless but hopeful. Perhaps she is not stuck but freed. I could have been seeing this wrong this entire time because this immersion to a virtual world could be the answer in creating something better.
I first saw her and I thought she was imprisoned, but I like to think now that she is free, maybe freer than me.
At a young age, we are told to stay in school and get your dream job. That way you will be able to provide for your family and live in your dream home. They say you will be making over six figures however we are never told about the statistics of how many people get laid off their job. The statistics of how many students graduate college and can’t get a job. This sculpture of Joann signifies how people feel after earning a degree with no job and the people who got laid off after committing with a company for so many years. What is one word to describe how you feel? They all answered “TRASH”, and Josh Kline using a clear polyethylene bag demonstrates to his audience his art piece without having to open the bag. This piece should be an eye opener for companies worldwide, how can you be so heartless to just let go of an individual who worked so hard over the years? However, they do say it’s a cold world, which is why maybe Joann is holding her knees to her chest to fulfill the warmth and comfort she needs. I had a connection with this piece because I am a college student myself. I am aiming to be successful and plan on going to graduate school to earn my masters. But what if years later, I’m in the same position as Joann and the company I am working for thanks me for my services and releases me. Is all the studying and hard work I’m putting into my future going to pay off? How many people will be in the same situation as Joann? Wow, it’s sad to say we will never know.
Millions of hands clutch at the female nutcracker’s legs and push down. Crack. And another nut falls down to the pile underneath her. According to folklore, a nutcracker represents strength and power. The mannequin’s inner thigh embodies the control and force a woman carries with her. A mountain of nuts accumulates underneath, a possible symbol of frail masculinity. I overhear giggles around me, and commentary on how women can “crush” men. This piece is supposed to represent a strong woman; a warrior against the patriarchy. However, as different hands grasp her exposed body, I feel sick. Strangers peak between her legs; it is the main focus of the piece. The mannequin remains emotionless, and with her right hand prompted open, it seems as if she’s trying to send a message to the audience around her: to stop using her open body as a tool. Women are viewed as sexual objects by men. Like the art piece, women are used for what they carry between their legs. Yet, they remain strong. They remain with poise. And soon, the male at fault will be confronted with a crack.
The piece “Juliana (2014-2015)”, modeled after friend and fellow artist Juliana Huxtable created by F rank Benson is a futuristic take on classical ideals. In the incredibly lifelike use of Painted Acura Xtreme Plastic rapid prototype, he successfully achieved homeostasis between classical imagery and contemporary mediums. The hermaphrodite was long celebrated in the art world as the archetype for the perfect human. They were believed to hold otherworldly abilities and were seen as messengers to the Gods. In roman times though they were seen as bad omens or even as divine punishments. This positive ideal has seemingly disappeared and is often forgotten by the everyday person, though negative stereotypes towards intersex people and trans people still endure. By portraying Juliana, herself being a transgender woman, in the reclined nude and with the hand gesture referencing classical ideals, modeled after famous hermaphrodite sculptures, but giving her modern elements such as acrylic nails and polish and a modern hairstyle and a chrome paintjob, Benson managed to create something that is truly captivating. Juliana, life sized, gazes peacefully ahead, her body is relaxed, yet she holds undeniable command and power reminiscent of queens of past, unbothered and ready for what the future holds.
The Art of Being Human
by Diego Suárez of FIU at Rubell Family Collection
Us humans have always been intrigued by how realistic art can become. When looking at this sculpture of a human who is painted as a sculpture, you’re left to wonder, how realistic can this sculpture get and how far will artists go to make it even more realistic in the future? Will there be a point were actual humans become the art? When I was looking at the sculpture, I realized that the paint the artist used to represent the sculpture aspect of the human was more of a metallic grey rather than a matte stone color. I wandered off in my head and came up with my own interpretation that the metallic grey is to represent a “robotic shell” rather than a sculpture shell and that the message behind the sculpture is that even though technology and the digital world are slowly taking over our lives, under that technological, “robotic shell”, we are still human. This interpretation of the sculpture ties in with the message behind the entire collection that expresses how the digital world is taking over and questions if we are still human.
The statue was designed to be standing in a position called contrapposto, a posture where all your weight is shifted to your back foot and your arms and shoulders twist off-axis from your lower body so you remain in a relaxed form. This was the same position it imposed on me while I stared at it’s detail in awe.
ASC 2018-2019 Student Gallery from Rubell Family Collection
Isabella Marie Garcia