Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) at Sight School

Inspired by discount culture and positive psychology, Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) is an exercise in pleasure, modest expectations and accessibility.

Sight School, a storefront gallery, was transformed into a colorful shop-like interior, populated by reconfigured discount shop materials, illuminated pegboard displays and a text-based light box.

With its unabashed enthusiasm, extensive use of representation, and bright colors, Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) marks a shift in direction stemming from my 2009 Breathe residency at Chinese Arts Centre in Manchester, U.K., where I became enamored with the aesthetic, symbolic and conceptual potential of discount store culture, the decorative impulse, and the search for happiness.

In Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors), sentiment and immediacy are embraced. The exhibition’s title highlights the paradox of thinking rationally about emotional and internal experiences. Alan Greenspan coined the term to negatively describe manic speculation; I borrow it to consider the positive activity of optimism. If being optimistic is embracing selective perspectives, what seems irrational may in fact be quite sensible.

Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) follows in a Pop Art tradition of artist-created stores, following Claes Oldenberg, Keith Haring, Tracy Emin and Sarah Lucas, and Takashi Murakami. Yet it shares with contemporary artist Cary Leibowitz (Candyass) an un-ironic stance and cheap and cheerful appeal.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Sight School and Christine Wong Yap organized

as is stuff and complicity. Glen Helfand, Patricia Maloney. Ginger Wolfe-Suarez

Read a transcript of the open dialog.

1. Paul Martin, Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure. London: Fourth Estate [2008].

2. Mark Johnson and George Lakoff, Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press [1980, 2003].

3. The central theme in Martin E. P. Seligman's work in positive psychology. Martin E. P. Seligman, Learned Optimism. New York: Free Press [1990].

Caption: Christine Wong Yap: Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors), Sight School, Oakland, CA, 2010.

Read Christine's interview with Steven Barich about Irrational Exuberance (Asst. Colors) on

Sight School was an artist-run exhibition space directed by Michelle Blade.

The artist would like to extend her sincerest gratitude to Michelle Blade; featured guests Glen Helfand, Ginger Wolfe-Suarez and Patricia Maloney; chief technicians Justin Limoges and Brian Barreto; installation specialists Dana Hemenway and Suzanne Husky; inflation facilitator Scott L.; aesthetic instigator Amanda Curreri; and Michael Yap.