Friday, March 27, 2009

On "A Siesta of Marilyn"

It's open studio at the gallery. There are dozens of rooms in the six floor building, and I am sitting on the white plastic chair behind the desk in her studio. She's gone to a conference, and I've volunteered to watch over her exhibition's small room. For two hours, almost nobody has appeared. Only one guy came into the room, looked around very quick, and vanished. That's all.

From my position, I cannot see anything but the 1333 x 2000mm print of her huge work "A Siesta of Marilyn." Even when I am looking at my computer screen, it's impossible not to see the bright scarlet colored futon in the bed from my desk. For more than two hours I've been looking at the picture.

At last I get up and stand with my arms akimbo in front of the photograph. My eyes are fixed on the scarlet futon again, but this time soon I inspect the room more carefully... For a minute, I've been enchanted and moved and perplexed by the power of my own imagination. It has driven me into the room, into the fantasy land -- romantic and savage. It gives me bad thoughts. It makes me think of a sacred promise broken. Short-stories of ephemeral love. Is it Mary Magdalene's room? Marilyn is the diminutive of Mary. Is she Mary Magdalene?

It is a room very small and old but cozy. There are stains everywhere, especially on the ceiling, but no spider webs, no dust. On the right side of the room there is a set of huge naked, nontransparent windows, and above them there is a simple wooden cross hanging on a blue wall. On the left hand side, there is a steel clothing rack covered with a piece of faded pink cloth, a mahogany colored wooden dresser and a cheap navy blue wardrobe. A rectangular heater sits under the window. On the dresser there are cosmetics, medicine, a box of Vitamin C, a couple of small toy dolls, a tin candy box, an old-fashioned black and red Bible, and around the dresser's mirror there are photos of children, portraits and a photo of a landscape with a camel in it. There is also a framed Jesus above the dresser. In the middle of the room, there is a big double-bed covered with a vivid scarlet colored blanket. The wallpaper is beige, washed-out as well, and the wall around the window is blue and the wallpaper is torn badly.

Even though, through the window, soft sunlight is brightening the room, its air is heavy and everything in the room is somewhat de-colorized, mono-toned and opaque, with the exception of the red bed. The dirty-yellow floor is clean. The room is neat. It looks so comfortable it makes one feel like a nap.

It looks more like a still-life painting than a photograph. Or it reminds me of Jan Vermeer's rooms in his paintings.

As she said, it could be not only an old woman's room, but also a prostitute's room or a teenager's room. In my eyes, it looks like a lover's hidden haven.

It is calm, exquisite, cute, comfortable, provocative, obscene, sacred, elegant, and religious.

It is beautiful.

++ At the Studio 603

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