Inspired by what he saw during both the union and political strikes at Yale, senior Jason Farago ’05 has put together a compelling exhibition of work comprised of pieces by nine different undergraduate artists. “Within and Without,” addresses issues involving identity within a group and the presence of borders both at Yale and abroad.
Maya’s Room, the undergraduate art gallery in Silliman College, serves as the perfect host to this eclectic display. The artists involved in “Within and Without” have used various media and artistic methods to shed light on questions involving the subdivision and secularization of society, in particular how these groups continue to separate themselves and become more acute as time goes by.
Farago’s goal in putting together the exhibit was to “present vastness of theme without judgment or a thesis,” to show how today there are “more overwhelming differences than in the past.” Farago and the other artists involved in the project wanted to create a forum where people could discuss the issues at hand without being told what to think. A web of controversial, relevant and related topics are interwoven both visually and through written pieces on politics, sexuality and gender, race, class and even cultural preference. The coalition of artists wanted to show “how space becomes an articulation of what you believe.” Looking at the numerous images and words, one must confront his or her own boundaries and opinions regarding others.
The exhibit is comprised of three parts. The first segment includes the work of undergraduate artists. The pieces range from photographic images of Ghana by Nathan Francis ’05 to a comic strip about the misadventures of a Korean college student and her devilish redheaded friend, “Little Park.” “Electric Fence,” an incredibly thought-provoking new magazine edited by Chinyere Ezie ’06 and Jade Pagkas-Bather ’06, deals with the separation between the Yale campus and the rest of New Haven.
Francis is a photography editor for the Yale Daily News.
Some of the work is extremely serious. One such example is a documentary by Ross Anderson ’04 about the wall that runs through the occupied city of Ghaza in Israel. But the show includes light-hearted material as well. Sam Santos ’05 played the childhood game of “True Love” with pen on little pieces of paper, matching her roommates with one another, exploring the different sexual and romantic pairings that could potentially occur even within her own suite.
The second part of the exhibition is a wall of images comprised by Jason Farago himself. Over 150 visual representations problematize the relationship between group identity and walls. Reproductions of art by famous photographers, signs from the union strike at Yale last year, stills from music videos and even an ad for a porn film called “Within and Without You,” line the entire left wall in a colorful and shocking array of unanswered questions. Through the contrasting and contradictory images, we get a sense of how people attach themselves to one another, as well as separate themselves by their interests and beliefs rather than by their school, race or their nationality.
The third part of the presentation of “Within and Without” is a series of three discussions held by Yale undergraduates. These discussions deal with identity by focusing on specific groups such as “Chicana Feminisms” led by Julia Gonzales ’05. The discussions help to further the idea that the exhibition is a springboard for people to bounce ideas off one another, ask difficult questions and engage in productive self-reflection. That self-reflection can later be applied to the way that they deal with people in a group setting.
This exhibition as a whole is an incredibly ambitious undertaking. Farago even makes a disclaimer at the beginning of the exhibit that he is not trying to give people a global view, but rather make people think globally in terms of space and relationships. Even for those not so artistically inclined, this is a forum for discussing issues that are prominent anywhere we go, especially so at Yale and in America at the moment. The artists involved have outdone themselves by participating in a beautiful and provocative exhibition.
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