Review: Political Intent and Beyond Limits at the Museum of Fine Arts

Valentina Rojas-Posada, Breaking News Managing Editor

Walking into the Political Intent and Beyond Limits exhibits, it is immediately evident that they are not your typical art exhibits. The mix of abstract and contemporary pieces highlights social issues and has the potential to redefine how we think about art.

The exhibits are placed in parallel installations currently on display at the MFA. In the main entrance of the exhibit, Mona Hatoum’s Grater Divide and Andy Warhol’s Red Disaster are in plain view.

Political Intent contains pieces of art that draw attention to social issues and explores how artists can call attention to causes they are passionate about. This exhibit is comprised entirely of work created by women who use their art as a form of expression and empowerment.

Artist Patty Chang’s voice can be heard throughout the gallery, speaking about her deceased aunt in her piece Melons (At a Loss).

“The original, which was made in a fine porcelain, was made back when my aunt and uncle got married—back in the days when black and white meant photos and color meant paint,” Chang says in part of her monologue.

However, this monologue is more complex than a simple reading. As she recites the story, a video plays featuring Chang cutting open the left part of her bra to reveal a cantaloupe, which she cuts open and eats as she talks. This odd visualization works in parallel with the meaningful story she tells regarding her aunt.

Nearby, a large colorful piece of art known as Goddess (Power of the Common Public) stands with ribbons flowing down from a pair of black wings, making a human-like figure. Each ribbon contains a powerful message of freedom and equality. One reads: “The personal is political”; another: “Freedom means choice”. By using an interesting medium, the ribbons instantly capture the attention of any visitors passing by.

Beyond Limits also showcases abstract pieces that go beyond the simple rectangular canvas that is typically displayed as art. These works of art find new ways to use the space around us and go beyond any simple frame.

When entering the Beyond Limits gallery, a large hanging sculpture looms above, attached to the ceiling. Ernesto Neto’s Prisma Branco hangs from a network of white lines, with several pink and blue drops being held.

The pink and blue are meant to represent females and males. In Neto’s effort to show how gender surrounds so much of what we do, the pink and blue drops surround each other and the viewer below.

A final part of the exhibit that cannot go unnoticed is Yoan Capote’s Abstinencia (politica). This small piece can be easily missed, but it can be seen while leaving the exhibit through a side exit

The piece is comprised of eight hands using sign language to spell out “politica”, which is Spanish for “politics”. There is a framed picture beside the hands that show visitors what each letter is in sign language, with the letters needed to decipher what the eight hands spell out highlighted.

Capote’s piece, created in 1977, was meant to symbolically give Cubans a voice, when citizens were unable to openly discuss the issue of politics under the harsh communist government of Fidel Castro.

The pieces in both the Political Intent and Beyond Limits exhibits showcase contemporary and abstract art that is meant to make viewers think about political issues, both past and present.

These exhibits are currently on display at the Museum of Fine Arts.