London: The Saatchi Gallery
I'm at the top of the stairs, looking down into the basement gallery at the exhibit "Old Persons Home" by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. A dozen or so very lifelike old folks are patrolling the floor in motorized wheelchairs. "Lifelike" isn't really the word because every one of these figures is either slumped forward in sleep or keeled over in death. The chairs are fitted with remote sensors to prevent collisions. They edge across the room in an endless dance of seemingly random charges and parries.
I'm the only visitor in the room, and I don't think the young gallery attendant has noticed me. She looks bored and is repeatedly stepping in front of one of the old guys, frustrating his attempts to move forward out of a corner. The hyperreality of the figures and the pathetic futile motions of this old fellow to get out of his trap begin to work on my emotions and I suddenly feel I'm witnessing a cruel case of casual bullying.
What previously was a gratuitous one-joke artwork suddenly means something more disturbing to me. I want to know that nothing like this is happening to my Mum.