Megacities at the Museum of Fine Arts
Beijing, Shanghai, Delhi, Mumbai, and Seoul are megacities of Asia, each one home to more than 10 million residents. Installations at the MFA bring the energy and density of these cities to town. Some of the installations are spaced out in the basement gallery. Others are set in the courtyard and outdoors.
The textures of the installations make an impression: so much and so many in rows or in a mass. There are houses made of scraps forming a single hut, thousands formed into one enclosure. A line of young visitors snapped photographs within this shelter, as if to say, we are at home in this world, in this community, in this playhouse, all packed in, cooperating and getting along.
Plastic fills our lives, jams our garbage cans and floods our waterways. Plastics carry the liquids that hydrate and clean us. A pile of green plastic is an ironic statement, in our environmental age, on the color of waste that buries our planet, especially in mountainous deposits within the megacities.
In the megacities, nature still appears. One installation seems to suggest that birds–or their replicas–have been drafted to bring messages of the city to the residents, quieting the creatures’ own songs. City slogans and pitches are carried in the beaks of charming reproductions of birds. Their shapes are exploited and co-opted for the songs of commerce and of human enterprises that keep the megacity human environments alive.
The texture of the inevitable accumulation of the megacities–much more of the same thing–is chilling and strangely comforting.