Human, All Too Human 3

Blog readers who took up last week’s invitation to identify the emotions represented in the photographic portraits of Guillaume-Benjamin Duchenne de Boulogne, and who have time to spare in London during the twelve days of Christmas, might be interested in an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in the South Bank Centre. George Condo’s Mental States is an exhibition of ‘imaginary portraits’ which have the capacity (according to the Gallery’s blurb) to ‘arouse our horror, fascination and delight’ as well as ‘solicit our empathy as we come to sense that their extreme mental states echo familiar aspects of our own natures’. It is a travelling exhibition, having already been on display in New York and Rotterdam, and opened in Frankfurt in February.

What is more, the Hayward is giving visitors the opportunity to write their own labels for the works on display – an opportunity not unlike the one offered by the Darwin Correspondence Project, and an exercise in empathy which is altogether appropriate for the season, it might be thought. A selection of these responses is highlighted on the exhibition website.

Mental States runs until 8 January 2012.

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