By Lindsey Davis
Boston, MA – Beginning at the entrance to the Mill’s Gallery, the Boston Center for the Arts’ new exhibition, “Me Love You Long Time (MLYLT),” features contemporary art created since the 1990s by artists from Southeast Asia and the United States. The dynamic display incorporates multiple videos and large-scale installations, along with everything from conceptual art to representational oil paintings.
Curated by Edwin Ramoran and organized by the Newark-based Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art, the exhibition’s title borrows its name from Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 film “Full Metal Jacket,” set during the Vietnam War. In the movie, prostitutes solicit two U.S. soldiers by saying, “Me love you long time.” In a more direct way, this exhibition examines the powers of colonialism and its relationship to sexuality, along with sexual captivity’s influences on pop culture and its manifestations in hip hop music.
The exhibition stretches back for multiple mini-galleries, each with at least one video — the whole space was buzzing with the sounds of women’s voices, noises, and music coming from the screens. One of the white cubes further back held a table in the center covered with trophies, each topped with the form of a woman, some bowling and some brides. The plates read: “Least Likely Mother,” “Most Disheveled Child” and “Most Apprehensive Fiancé,” among others, all awarding the parts of themselves that most women would prefer not to acknowledge or think about. In all there were nine trophies in Swati Khurana’s series “UnSuitable Girls,” created from 2007 through 2012.
The gallery’s website describes the exhibition: “Me Love You Long Time” incorporates various media and new visual strategies to explore or upend themes such as gender, sexuality, sex work, cultural tropes and subjectivity.” In short, MLYLT is a large-scale multi-disciplinary exhibition comprised of more than 60 artworks by 51 artists, all with their own interpretation of sexuality and its relationship to captivity. An ambitious, demanding collection that sometimes wildly shocks with graphic visuals and other times mildly surprises with intricate details.
(“Me Love You Long Time (MLYLT)” continues through April 7 at the Mills Gallery at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston. For more information, call (617) 426-5000.)