loosing my ballardian virginity (part one)
having never opened a j.g. ballard book in my life, it seems terribly inadequate that i cover and review the very first exhibition dedicated exclusively to his life and work. still, adequacy has never been my forte, and after being seduced by the show’s promotional poster planted right in front of the door to my building—“crec en res,” it read, I believe in nothing—i decided to go to the cccb and see what all the fuss was about.
upon entering the exhibition, i found myself sucked into this darkened, blue neon nothing. it was a little disorienting. there was probably an opening statement and bio pasted on the wall, but i skipped it and decided to make my first time as visceral and uninformed as possible. after a boring strand of interviews with writers on the subject of ballard, and a terribly anticlimatic “conceptual” “videoart” piece (very barcelona. if there is one thing i hate about the culture scene here is that it's overstuffed and heavily subsidized, meaning that practically anyone with decent connections and a catalan pedigree can show his or her crap in even the more established museums and galleries.) the show actually began setting its pace.
a striking ballardian background room featured a caged “inside” collection of mementos and minute watercolors of the lunghua internment camp where ballard and his family were detained during ww2. at the end of the room ran a projection of the bbc documentary home, where ballard return to the camp in the early 2000s. on the “outside” half of the room, behind a wooden pallet divisory wall, are eerie black and white snapshots of wartime shanghai. the overall effect of the room is subtle and shattering, a very effective way of exposing the roots of ballardian spirit.
soon enough, it struck me i really wasn’t as ballardly vestal as i thought. even though i’ve never had a go at j.g. himself—i’m still not sure why—i realized that a certain ballardian sensibility had penetrated my development early on, that it was very much a part of my pop upbringing. from the re-run of the empire of the sun movie—which impressed me as a kid, and might have led to some preemptive crush on christian bale—to the melted cheese aesthetics of stop-motion sci-fi and illustrated pulp, i began to fathom the idea of a non-ballard-reading ballardian…
to be continued