The piece that most intrigued me was He Xie.  It was the first one you came upon as you entered the exhibit and as I stood there getting the settings right on my camera almost everyone who came in had some sort of reaction to this installation.  For most people it was a reaction of disgust.  Even my mom when looking at my photo said it was ‘kind of obscene’.  This response doesn’t surprise me, because there is something repugnant about hundreds – maybe a thousand- crabs writhing and crawling all over each other in order to get to an unknown summit.  Yet, there is one crab that is not crawling towards the mass of tangled crabs.  This crab faces out towards the viewer and silently comments on the ‘world’ he lives in.  “Every crab for itself.”  “Better not get flipped over, because no one will help you back up.”  “Do whatever you can to get to the top, that is the only victory.”  The world that I read into this exhibit was one that is reminiscent of our own high level politics, business, and certain academic areas.  From the lowest to the highest level people will fight to ascend to the next level and the most power hungry and savage will sabotage others in their way.  Flipping them on their backs and letting them be carried to the fringes of the pile until they can hopefully flip themselves over and start the climb again.  There are a few crabs like the one I photographed that turns their back on the pile of ambition and almost seem to beg for a different way –  a kinder world.  Or maybe I’m just reading my own feelings into the unsuspecting crab.


Katelyn Kiner – Hope College – 2017


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