The First Monday in May

  1. Reflect on the research methods you see in the film: Which aspects of the Met’s fashion exhibition “China Through the Looking Glass” were researched? Which research methods and techniques were used for each aspect of the exhibition? Do you think the research was effective? Why or why not?

They started their research by printing a lot of images which showed the Chinese culture and collections from different clothing brands. They mainly focused on ceramics, an interview with John Galliano, they used the YSL archives and also old movies. They had a big flower piece that formed a huge ceramic vase. They made a huge bamboo “forest” out of plexiglass. I think it was effective because they had to be very careful about the way they placed the Chinese historical art pieces next to the fashion art pieces and the decorations. However, I think they had lack of information about Buddhism and Mao. They wanted to put Mao and Buddhist art in the same place but later they understood that that didn’t make any sense with the historical background.

  1. An important theme in the film is the wish to avoid cultural appropriation and the desire to be respectful of ancient Chinese art and design. Do you think that the curators were able to avoid cultural appropriation and present an in-depth understanding of the topic? Why or why not? How did they do so?

I think they tried their best to not misinterpret and offend anyone. However, most of the designers were inspired from different movies. At one point in the film they were interviewing Jean Paul Gaultier and he stated: “It is good not to go to the country, it’s good to see a movie.” I think this can cause some misinterpretation because in movies they used stereotypes of oriental women one of them was the “dragon lady” and this can be offensive to the oriental women since they are all being judged by this. The Chinese community was concerned about the way they were being portrayed and they wanted to have some modern art as well included in the exhibition. However, they understood that China still hadn’t developed a specific sense of “modern identity”. Than the Chinese community was worried that the old art pieces would be underestimated because they would be surrounded withe decorations and other things that would get the people distracted. At the end of the day they achieved their goal and raised a lot of money for the museum and also toped the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty.

  1. Write 5 research questions that you think the film is exploring. (questions that start with “why” or “how”).
  • How can they raise a lot of money for the museum?
  • How can they display the Old Chinese pieces in a way that is not offensive?
  • Why are many designers inspired by movies?
  • How work is put to make a successful event?
  • Why they have to be very careful about the decisions they make so they don’t misinterpret the Chinese culture?

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