There were no more than a couple of hours, but before this monumental work of art, with few people around, I forgot all those things that worried me these days. It was like a time capsule filled with beauty where, if it weren’t for the mask, I could forget the pandemic for a moment. I simply went to the MET (the Metropolitan Museum of New York), and I wondered at each painting, and I roamed, excited, the empty hallways and I reflected the way that culture has of providing self-criticism.
The MET turns one hundred fifty years old, and to celebrate it they have designed an exhibit about the museum’s evolution and its role in society; an exhibit where, among other things, question the point of view from which we speak about culture. Perspective matters, and it also changes. And those things that did not trouble us a hundred years ago probably trouble us now, and vice versa.
My cultural trip of the week also made me think about the use and significance of the word “culture.” If we stop to think about what our culture is, we would have to think about all of us and our traditions. If we had to define it, we would probably end up with two and a half million different definitions (and as many more from the diaspora), and all of them would have to be something true. And the sum of all these truths is our culture.
The definition of our cultural “we” is always going to be limited because it is impossible to represent us in a phrase in a museum. But the result of the MET’s retroactive self-critical exercise helped me have a little bit more hope in the way with which we could show our cultural identity: assuming the errors of perspective.