The Best Art Installations for Politicos, War Buffs and Gamers

Art

10/12/15

Next time you go to MoMA, be sure to take China’s Red Army on a soda-throwing rampage against Mario and Street Fighter characters. Also, step into a box of swirling Tibetan prayer wheels, and contemplate the frightening greed of Bill Gates while staring at a blank white screen. You can do it all by walking through the “Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection” exhibit, on view until April 10, 2016.

Lament of the Images by Alfredo Jaar

WHO WILL LOVE IT: Political Junkies, Conspiracy Theorists
WHAT WE LEARNED: Nelson Mandela was physically unable to cry after digging lime in prison for nearly 30 years.
WTF MOMENT: Bill Gates is hiding 17 million historical photographs 220 FEET below ground in a Pennsylvania limestone mine.
CULTURAL TIDBIT: George W Bush’s government bought and hid photographs of possible war crimes in 2001.

Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jaar invites viewers into a nearly pitch-black hallway with three panels on one wall, each comprised solely of fluorescent white letters telling a story.

The first tells of Nelson Mandela’s physical inability to cry after digging lime in prison for nearly 30 years, which prevented tears photographers yearned to capture on the day of his release. Following, we learned that Bill Gates has buried 17 million historical photographs in a limestone mine, releasing them digitally at a pace that’s estimated to take nearly 500 years. The last tells the story of George W. Bush in Kabul, where he launched the first airstrikes of 2001 and where his staff are said to have bought and hid controversial satellite photographs of the area.

Beyond the hallway, an empty box of a room offers a blinding white movie screen with a harsh white light in utter darkness and silence.

Gamepieces by Nalini Malani

Who Will Love It: Painters, Cartoonists, War Buffs and Aging Hippies
What We Learned: Contrasting content creates intriguing art. Here we have Tibetan prayer wheels, Hindu gods and nuclear bomb footage all spinning in perfect harmony.
WTF Moment: The sound of young girls chanting acts as a soundtrack to spinning projections of cartoon cats, handguns and skulls.
Cultural Tidbit: The artist was inspired by the 1994 Pokhran II nuclear bomb tests in India, which were criticized internationally and put India into debt to the tune of $44 billion.

Gamepieces is a room that’s reminiscent of a Harajuku department store, an Egyptian tomb tattered with hieroglyphics and an indie-revival cinema curated by Quentin Tarantino all at once.

Lexan cylinders hang from the ceiling spinning. Hindu gods, cartoon cats, fighters, skulls and handguns are painted on them, and projected onto the surrounding walls creating a visual spiral of figures illuminated by flashing green, blue and pink lights. Sprinkled throughout the images are found footage of World War II atomic bomb tests.

Pleasant Indian chants and hymns accompany the perpetually active installation creating an eerie cocktail of violence, imagination and serenity.

Long March Restart by Feng Mengbo

Who Will Love It: Gamers and Children of the 90’s
What We Learned: The Red Army was lucky that Mario didn’t get in its way during the historic “Long March” of the 1930’s.
WTF Moment: The graphics look like Super Nintendo. You see Mario. But you’re playing on two fully-lit, 80-foot walls in a hallway in one of the most exalted museums in the world.
Cultural Tidbit: This exhibit was originally a series of 42 paintings finished in 1993.

This hallway is a gamer’s dream. Two long walls are vibrant video game screens seemingly blown up from 1990’s living room televisions with Super Mario-style courses of boxes to jump and bosses to battle.

An XBOX 360 controller gives you access a the main character, a soldier in Mao Zedong’s Red Army during the Long March campaign of the 1930’s. Characters from Nintendo classics Mario and Streetfighter join the game as bad guys trying to stop you in your path, and you throw soda cans that work like grenades to move them out of the way.

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