Making Normal Strange

The Making Strange Exhibit was at once stunning, absurd, and thought-provoking! Vivan Sundaram is a Delhi-based artist who does a fantastic job of taking normal, everyday things and turning them into strange combinations that spurs deep thinking about societal notions of beauty and health. Although there were so many pieces that brought up interesting discussion, I'd like to share my thoughts on some of my favorites.

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This piece was quite intriguing, as it took me a while to notice that the objects inside the suit were pills! It makes quite a statement about how the medications we take become a part of us and incorporated into our bodies, though we may not think about this in our modern lives where taking pills is a common day thing. I wonder if Sundaram's commentary also has to do with an Eastern critique of Western medicine, which heavily relies on medications rather than natural treatments and remedies.

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There were quite a few avant-garde fashion pieces made from unexpected materials such as hair (as seen in the one above), bras, and medical supplies, pushing us to think about our definitions of beauty and health. My gut reaction to this was actually one of repulsion, due to the massive amount of hair. But after looking at it longer, I noticed how intricately laid out the hair was into this form, which actually started looking more attractive once I thought about the design. The head on the side made me realize they were actually weaves. I now started to understand: weaves serve no other purpose than purely aesthetic ones...so why not make a dress completely out of them? I now saw the genius behind his pieces that seemed so absurd on first glance.

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(All photos taken by me)

This piece was really quite breathtaking. I believe it's about the clash between the natural and manmade ideals of beauty. The coming together of the organic form of the spine with the idealized, stylized mannequin body is quite dramatic.

Overall, the Making Strange exhibit was a great experience visually as well as in reflecting on society's values of aesthetics and health.