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Reflection on the Riva Lehrer's Exhibition

RaeY's picture

Since we discussed a lot of the portraits done by Riva in Kristin’s writing seminar, I have been keeping an eye on this exhibition since last semester. I stopped by for a little while a couple times last semester to try to find a peace of mind in between all the academic pressure. But last Tuesday was the first time I actually looked into all the portraits carefully and examined the texts next to the portraits.

Not surprisingly, though we had spent some time in my writing seminar discussing some of the portraits, I found a lot of interesting details in these portraits that I didn’t notice at first. One of these portraits leaves me a deep impression, Zora: How I Understand. When I looked into this portrait closely on Tuesday, I noticed the eyes of endangered or extinct animals hidden in the leaves for the first time. Besides what was written next to this portrait, the eyes gave me a mixed feeling, on one hand, they correspond with the blinded eye of Zora and showed no emotions, on the other hand, they correspond with the hidden face of Riva, hidden under the leaves but watching the grief of disappearance.

The most recent series of Riva: The Risk Pictures, is the one I’ve never seen before. I went to Riva’s talk last semester and remember she describing how the risks were taken by both her and her subjects and sometimes these risks can really be huge. I really appreciated the idea of working on an artwork together with the art subjects themselves and believe that through this practice, the subjects’ voice can be expressed better. The portrait of Finn Enke is the one that caught my eyes the most. At first glance, I thought this portrait is just a man sitting on a cartoon chair. But after reading the text next to the portrait, I started noticing the interesting details. I was surprised to find that a lot of elements in this portrait were drawn on a separate piece of paper and attached to the original drawing. And a lot of these attachments were made by Enke. This additional texture makes both the portrait and the figure three dimensional, and gives us a feeling that Enke is both living in the reality and living in his own “cartoon” world.  

It’s really sad to know that this exhibit will no longer be in Magill after Friday. But since it’s actually the Chinese New Year’s Eve this Friday, I’m guessing that this can be the right time for the exhibition to end for now and start something new in the new year.