Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
I’ve been meaning to write this weeks and weeks ago but never found the time! Today — a week after the Queen’s visit to this exhibition and a week before it closes — it made sense to write about it. I was invited to the opening of this exhibition back in October but unfortunately could not make it.
I finally took the time to go with a friend in November or December! I was going to go at some point no matter what but it’s worth mentioning the fact that now, students can get a free membership which gives unlimited access to all temporary exhibition for free! Yes, free!
My first impression of the Fiji exhibition was that it was very different from all the other ones I’d seen at the Sainsbury Centre before and a lot less typical in a sense. Whereas previous exhibition usually focused on what we would see a more typical forms of art (paintings, drawings, sculptures), this one — like Magnificent Obsessions — focuses on everyday objects.
This exhibition regroups many sculptures, textiles, ceramics, and ivory and shell regalia… It is a celebration of Fiji and its people, of its traditions and of its lifestyle.
As I walked through the exhibition again yesterday afternoon to prepare this article and refresh my memory, I felt very confused. Why have they made this exhibition? Why an art exhibition without “real” art? Why Fiji?
And then another question could not leave my mind for the rest of the afternoon and evening: when does an object become art? I actually spoke about it with my boss with working at the UEA Call Back Scheme for Applicant Days (work involved a conversation about Camus’s oeuvre, France and Twix bars). I told him how I felt while going through this beautiful exhibition again. His answer was: things become art when they’re in a museum. I couldn’t help thinking about Duchamps’s urinal.
As I write this, I’m still very puzzled. I really enjoyed the exhibition, probably because it feels so different and made me question so many things. And also, culturally speaking, it showed me a lot about a part of the world and about people I didn’t know at all. I now know the whole Wikipedia article about Fiji! And I’m actually thinking about a way in which I could use it in the Travel Literature module I’m doing this semester.
You still have a little over a week (two weekends) to go see this exhibition. If you are in Norwich or need a nice break from your studies, go! It’s worth it. My favourite things were the three beautiful dresses on display. (The temptation to touch them was strong but I managed to resist).
Also, who would say no to walk the ground Queen Elizabeth II walked last Friday? Certainly not me!