I went to an incredible and highly unusual exhibit at the Monnaie de Paris on Quai Conti, Paris. Maurizio Cattelan, Not Afraid of Love, until January 8.
Emotions are at the center stage of the experience.
Cattelan is known for its shocking, provoking, surprising, cynical installations and after seeing a few pictures of the exhibit, I thought it would be fun to see a show that was out of the ordinary. I had a sense of what to expect, but it was far from anything I had anticipated. I went through a roller coaster of emotions from surprise, shock, disgust, amazement, wonder, bewilderment, sadness, happiness, pity, horror, fun, joy, empathy, relief... and I am probably forgetting a lot more. There was not a room where I did not let out a: Ahhh, Oh, Huh, Um, Yikes, Ouch, Arrrgh... Even though I had an idea of the artwork, the grandeur of the location, the stunning building of the Monnaie de Paris, was critical to the experience itself and the impact of the installations it has on the viewer. Maurizio Cattelan said: "I don't want to lead the audience in a specific direction, I want to provoke a spontaneous reaction." He triggered a myriad of reactions and what was even more extraordinary he set off a full array of responses in such a limited time frame. I did not think it was possible to feel all of these emotions in a couple of hours and more particularly in an art exhibit. After I had seen one installation, I thought the next one could not possibly be as powerful. I was totally wrong, all of them were intense. I was lucky to visit the exhibit with a good friend of mine and we were able to chat about our reactions, talk about the artist's message, our interpretations of the installations. We sat for a while in a grand room where Pope John Paul II is lying in the middle of a red carpet with a meteorite on him. We felt empathy for the Pope, what a demanding and challenging job he had, and I certainly would not have liked to be in his beautifully polished red shoes feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. Your heart and brain are at work even your body engages in the experience.
I could not stop thinking during the exhibit about the artist: "What type of a man is he to come up with such weird, twisted ideas that an ordinary person like me could not even fathom to have? Where does he find his inspirations?". I am fascinated by an artist's creative process. Then I thought I would probably be frightened to meet him; his ideas are too much out there. In reality, I would not be scared of him I would be afraid of myself, of his power to unleash all these inner feelings that are most of the time hidden deep in myself.
In retrospect, it is a therapeutical exhibit. Be open, let yourself live your emotions, embrace the experience, and you'll FEEL ALIVE!
P.S. I would love to meet you, Maurizio!!!