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Art and Movie

Panic, Isolation, and Emancipation from Trauma

As the unprecedented pandemic spreads across the globe, its impact is exceeding the scope of the COVID-19 itself. These are disconcerting times. Our worries are vast and wide-ranging, about our health, our families, finances, and work. Maybe social distancing in the time of COVID-19 is a duty and a privilege for people who do not perform selfless medical care or depend on in-person jobs to pay the bills. For those of us who can, and should, remain relatively isolated, perhaps it’s a good time to reflect upon the current situation of humanity and stay strong while learning to find a little joy in solitude.

Eazel’s second curation presents three pairs of movies and exhibitions in line with the relevant issues of panic, isolation, and emancipation from trauma.

Let's get immersed with timely film and thought-provoking virtual art exhibitions!

1. Escalating fear in the midst of inexplicable disaster and its scar

Exploring birds motif in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963) and paintings by a Serbian artist Vladimir Veličković

2. Conquering the sheer scale of solitude

Feeling the strength of existing connections in the movie "The Martian" (2015) and Tiril Hasselknippe's sculptural-installation works

3. Duel de femmes

How Harley Quinn, the DC super hero girl and a French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle emancipated themselves

1. Escalating fear in the midst of inexplicable disaster and its scar

Exploring birds motif in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" (1963) and paintings by a Serbian artist Vladimir Veličković

Still ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may be the most sustained period of widespread public panic since World War II. Even the worst catastrophes we've experienced — from natural disasters to terrorist attacks — have happened in one place, at one time not as global-scale as this. Going through this almost surreal disaster with no modern parallels, Eazel suggests revisiting the two masters of suspense and trauma each in the cinema and art world: Alfred Hitchcock and Vladimir Veličković. Specifically focusing on the two masters’ common use of an interesting motif, the birds, we can ponder upon the unpredictable and escalating nature of a horrible disaster and how people cope with the deep scars left behind.

Alfred Hitchcock, The Birds

Alfred Hitchcock, "The Birds" (1963)

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Until Hitchcock’s "The Birds" first flew into the world and revolutionised on-screen horror in 1963, birds were still those benign winged creatures you might happily have tossed breadcrumbs to in the park. But then Hitchcock intrigues us with showing how a peaceful setting can turn into the most horrible and violent one. The setting for Hitchcock’s avian apocalypse is the quiet little town of Bodega Bay, where San Francisco socialite Melanie Daniels (​Tippi Hedren​) has followed Mitch Brenner (​Rod Taylor​), flirtatiously gifting him with a pair of lovebirds. Then, on leaving town, she is attacked by a seagull, the first of a series of escalating strikes from the air, as one-sided attacks of birds begin against man. T​he reason for the attacks is never explained, which further increases the sense of suspense and horror. The master film maker understands if we can explain something, we fear it less. T​he birds represent the unpredictable and arbitrary element of life, the unacknowledged invisible forces of destruction that cannot be explained or controlled with rational reasoning or commonsense.

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Alfred Hitchcock, "The Birds" (1963)

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Some of these traumatic events stand out and endure in our collective memory simply because of the severe cruelty and unexpectedness of the moment. The master painter Vladimir Veličković’s exhibition in Eazel, invites us to directly confront the aftermaths of atrocities humanity has created but we shy away from. The exhibition, titled, "гавран," meaning "raven" in Serbian language, unveils a selection of works depicting violent scenes of war with bare, torn bodies punctuated by the omnipresence of the ravens in flight or on the lookout. In the mind of the artist and the war victims’ collective consciousness, the raven can symbolize a scavenger who, without any distinction, feeds on everything for its own survival.​ ​On the contrary, the raven could also mean the voluntary isolation of the one who decided to live on a higher plane, trying to escape from torment, facing the reality and thus welcoming the much-deserved calm.

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Virtual Visit

гавран
Vladimir Veličković solo exhibition at A2Z Art Gallery Hong Kong in 2019

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2. Conquering the sheer scale of solitude

Feeling the strength of existing connections in the movie "The Martian" (2015) and Tiril Hasselknippe's sculptural-installation works

In the midst of a global pandemic crisis, countries are imposing unprecedented social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is essential because just staying home and avoiding non-essential social activities, hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved. But, if you suddenly find yourself with a lot of time alone, in quarantine or practicing social distancing, the experience might be unsettling. What to do with all that solitude?

Below pair of a movie and an art exhibition will make you stay entertained and inspired while practicing social distancing with the thrill, beauty and the profound life lessons learned from time spent alone.

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Ridley Scott, "The Martian" (2015)

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Ridley Scott’s "The Martian" is a striking reminder that there is nowhere worse to be alone than on another planet or in a spaceship far from our home Earth. Even if Matt Damon’s Mark Watney is a high-spirited and, proactive character there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that being stranded totally alone on an inhospitable rock 140 million miles from home is not a pleasant state of affairs.

It was only a little tweak that triggered Mark Watney’s optimism. Bored with the solitude, he goes through media files on his crewmates’ laptops and zipdrives, reading Agatha Christie novels, watching 70s sitcoms, and listening to disco music. At first, this may just seem like entertainment for Watney, but, in fact, reading his crewmates’ books, listening to their music, and watching their TV shows allowed Watney to stay connected to them. A little entertainment in the depth of solitude stimulated him to create connections with himself and his loved ones, even in their absence.

Ridley Scott, The Martian

Ridley Scott, "The Martian" (2015)

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Virtual Visit

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Tiril Hasselknippe solo exhibition at Magenta Plains New York in 2020

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Tiril Hasselknippe’s large maze-like installations in her solo exhibition in Magenta Plains New York, also throw the viewers into the deserted landscapes like Mars. The scene suggests the viewers are left behind as the lone survivors on the lonely planet. One might also say that her work is about the hazards of being alone in the midst of an overwhelming disaster. As a sculptor working with steel, concrete, fiberglass, and resin who proposes object-based solutions to evade humanity's downfall, she creates sculptures that command authority of physical presence through their sheer volume, scale and weight. It looks like a kind of science fiction of formalism in which the double bonds between the sacred and the primitives, the natural and artificial and the life-giving and the downfall are all present.

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Braut

Braut, 2020
Concrete, pigment, rebar, seashells, moss, crab, stones, gravel, sand, coal, water
Dimensions variable

Bykjernens Soldans Solar Dance of City Kernel

Bykjernens Soldans (Solar Dance of City Kernel) (Detail), 2019
Welded steel, resin
38h x 113w x 78d in.

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But there is also a message for hope and importance of collaboration in her installations. Ironically, the artist believes that infrastructure will save us at the end of the world​​.[1] The water-purifying columns of 'Braut,' arranged in descending order on the upper story symbolize a mechanism that is meant for people to operate together. Viewers can imagine people standing between the pillars and deliver the purified water to the next dish. With the placement of these ‘infrastructure’ with a post-apocalyptic narrative, the artist seems to point out people need each other, right now in the middle of a crisis.

In the end, the status of being physically distant from your friends, colleagues, and other loved ones is not social isolation. It’s a little counterintuitive that there’s really no need to feel lonely when you’re alone. Being able to reminisce and actively participate in feeling the strength of existing connections through art, movie or any kind of cultural exposure can be a source of significant ongoing strength and stability.

[1] https://www.surfacemag.com/articles/tiril-hasselknippe-magenta-plains/

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Braut

Braut (Detail), 2020
Concrete, pigment, rebar, seashells, moss, crab, stones, gravel, sand, coal, water
Dimensions variable

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3. Duel de femmes

How Harley Quinn, the DC super hero girl and a French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle emancipated themselves

Eazel presents a daring and unapologetic pair of feminist heroes in Hollywood and the art world: a popular feminist anti-hero franchise, Harley Quinn and Niki de Saint Phalle, one of the most important feminist artists of all time.

David Ayer, Suicide Squad

David Ayer, "Suicide Squad" (2016)

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The Joker (Batman’s long-standing nemesis) has been one of the most beloved comic villains. However, much more recently, people have been fascinated by a relatively new villain named Harley Quinn. Though she may have started as ‘the Joker's right-hand gal who got inevitably attracted by her oppressive father-figure’ in Batman, Harley Quinn has now become one of the most popular female anti-hero characters. She's received her own stand-alone comic series as well as a breakout onscreen personification with Margot Robbie's performance in "Suicide Squad" and, more recently in this February, a spin-off sequel, "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)". New York Magazine has recently reviewed that ​"Birds of Prey"​ ​is in essence a fantasy offers a different, brighter outlook for women who choose not to play by the rules.[​2]​ So, from a feminist point of view, "the emancipation of one Harley Quinn" is not just her characteristic departure from the self-proclaimed Joker’s girl. In the wake of her breakup with Joker, Harley’s back and better than ever with a brand new girl gang of her own who band together against manipulative patriarchy.

[2] https://www.vulture.com/2020/02/margot-robbie-harley-quinn-birds-of-prey-unruly-woman.html

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Cathy Yan, "Birds of Prey" (2020)

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Nike de Saint Phalle and one of her Tiris

Nike de Saint Phalle and one of her Tiris (which means ‘Fire’ or ‘Gunshot’ in French) paintings (1961)
Photo by Gerhard Rauch (Maxppp)

If you enjoyed the Harley Quinn movie, we’re pretty sure you’ll be also fascinated by the world of Niki de Saint Phalle as the continuum of feminist heroes’ rise from trauma and patriarchic oppression. As a whimsical feminist and a dedicated yet tortured artist, Niki de Saint-Phalle was a woman of many attributes. From her work ‘Shooting Picture’ that made her famous in the 1960’s by actually shooting a rifle at a painted canvas, to her signature character ‘Nanas’ in the 1990’s, this artist became a feminist icon with an international career.

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Let us take a walk into Eazel’s Niki de Saint Phalle exhibition! Exploring Niki de Saint Phalle’s traumatic origin behind her unruly and often complicated character and the triumphant evolution of her art will bring similarly cathartic experiences just as in a roller coaster block-buster movie.

The cover of Harley Quinn’s Gang of Harleys

The cover of "Harley Quinn’s Gang of Harleys" (2017, by Jimmy Palmiotti and Frank Tieri)

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Virtual Visit

Niki de Saint Phalle
Niki de Saint Phalle solo exhibition at Tang Contemporary Art Hong Kong in 2019

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