Cult of Splendor
Victoria Fu, Cult of Splendor, 2014, installation view, photo by Elan Greenwald ©UCI UAG
In Siegfried Kraucer’s 1926 essay Cult of Distraction he describes the opulent movie palaces of the 1920s as possessing a “surface splendor,” one enticing viewers to forget the hardships of living within an industrial society. The intoxicating lure of the screen and its ability to take us out of our harsh reality is as relevant now as it was some 100 years ago. As movie palaces have given way to other spectacular screens – television, smart phones, laptops, and tablets – we find that magnificent distractions still have an enduring following: this is the site of Victoria Fu’s solo exhibition Cult of Splendor. In a constellation of Fu’s 16mm films and digital video installations we encounter such diverse topics as appropriation and the unclear ethics of Internet use, the history of cinema and spectatorship, globalization, and the want or even need for distraction in a capitalist society. Through Fu’s work we can begin to critique the cult of splendor.