The exhibition of the work of Murakami hosted by the Château de Versailles (Ile de France, in Paris’ suburbs), which consists of sculptures inspired by the manga culture, has brought with it much criticism and I think, many misunderstandings.
Some people, and amongst them some associations from the city of Versailles, (the Château being situated in that city’s heart), have explained that the exhibition - needless to say, contrasting with the dominant architectural style of the region and, predominantly of the Château itself, renowned for its flamboyant symmetrical attributes – was contrary to the culture and insulting to the environment in which it was hosted. I understand that royalists feel they have been invaded in what constitutes one of their country’s best source of income in the tourism industry, and a place which carries a very heavy symbol of their royal history. But is the exhibition this shocking ? Should it really be banned from « the castle » ?
What i think is almost shocking, is the lack of open-mindedness of some people. The Château de Versailles has already hosted a couple of exhibitions, namely one of Jeff Coons so why is this one lacking of warmth regarding its welcoming within the walls of the Château ? Maybe the fact that it’s inspired from the manga culture has uninspired some locals. But the exhibition is temporary anyway. What I personally like with this exhibition is the contrast it creates. The art itself does not naturally appeal to me, but the idea of penetrating the royal environment with manga characters is, to me, just exhilarating. Adding to that, when one takes a look at the different sculptures presented, none of them are truly shocking. And everyone knows the mangas can be very, very un-presentable. So in the end - and let me be clear, this is my own opinion - this exhibition is at worst amusing and surprising, and at best exhilarating and inspiring for someone enjoying the contrasts and provocations that art can create.
It’s a little bit like watching Tarantino’s Kill Bill : prepare yourself to intertwine classy backgrounds with manga references or you might end up asking yourself what you’ve just seen.