The Sydney Morning Herald reviews a recently-opened exhibit of contemporary Chinese art that is somewhat misleadingly entitled “Vile Bodies.”
Vile Bodies is a catchy title but there are very few points of comparison between Evelyn Waugh’s novel about the party-going lifestyles of young Londoners in the 1920s, and the current exhibition at the White Rabbit Gallery. In a Chinese context the word “party” takes on an entirely different connotation, and unless you’re on the Central Committee it’s not conducive to having fun. White Rabbit’s 15th exhibition of contemporary Chinese art doesn’t present a particularly tight argument or theme. After a brief discussion of mythical monsters and our own implicit monstrosity, the catalogue launches into a defence of “vileness”. The anonymous writer assures us: “the vile in us is not always evil, it can be beautiful, even glorious.”
Based on the reporter’s description of some of the art on display, Waugh fans in the Sydney area might want to consider carefully before texting for an Uber and heading for the gallery.