Xiaoyi Chen’s series ‘Koan’ – using the photogravure process and with Eastern aesthetic to explore beneath the surface of symbolic and following to the Zen and Taoist philosophy opening up the territory of the pre-verba in getting closer to the concept of purity.
Xiaoyi Chen – Koan
“Tao and Zen always advise people to stay absolutely quiet and purify thought processes. In order to achieve this goal, our attention should focus on the most basic form of the universe’s existence. In Zen Buddhism, Koan is a story or riddle used to help in the attainment of a state of spontaneous reaction, free from planning and analytical thought. In contradiction to Western philosophy, Koans emphasize the inadequacy of language and words, and the importance of intuition over reason and logic, to transform the self.
I named the series Koan, and selected abstract landscape photographs to do a photo-etching process; the results of this craft are poetic and full of imaginations. Also only uses black ink and print on different Japanese papers, the color derives from the atmosphere of desolation and melancholy and the expression of minimalism in ancient Chinese poetry and monochromatic ink painting.”
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew’s series ‘An Indian from India’ – diptychs combining archival images from the 19th and early 20th century of Native Americans with her self-portraits, to challenge the legacies of colonial pasts of more than 500 years and exploring the ‘otherness’ of identity.
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew – An Indian from India
“As an immigrant, I am often questioned about where I am “really from.” When I say that I am Indian, I often have to clarify that I am an Indian from India. It seems strange that all this confusion started because Christopher Columbus thought he had found the Indies and called the native people of America collectively as Indians.”
With themes like assimilation and assumptions about minorities, and titles ‘Red Indian’ / ’Brown Indian’ or ‘Noble Savage / ‘Savage Noble’, the confusion is not only around the word “Indian” but has deeper roots in stereotypes of the notion of ‘primitive natives’ and races relations.
Caitriona Dunnett’s series ‘Mass Paths’ – landscapes of the Irish countryside in hunting for traces of people who walked the paths during penal times to reach illegal mass, in her attempt to investigate history and memory, and capture their stories of resilience, courage and commitment.
Caitriona Dunnett – Mass Paths
“The Penal Laws were imposed on Catholics in Ireland in 1695 and religion was prohibited. The Church was kept alive by operating under great secrecy. My aim is to visually unearth the history behind these paths and the people who walked them. The locations of these sites were passed on by word of mouth… I spent years researching…
I have been experimenting with converting the digital photographs of my walks into contact negatives, creating and then toning cyanotypes, opening up a dialogue between photography, painting and etching. I am engaged by how this multi-layered process echoes that of a landscape which has been coated over the years by the complexities and tensions of politics, society, religion and people.”
Yang Yongliang’s series ‘The Peach Blossom Colony’ – an idyllic society in a state of equality and romanticism, residing an illusional and reconstructed settings based on modern reality as a hopeless despair of the lost symbolic carrier of spirituality.
“As modern society rapidly develops, materialism and consumerism gradually corrodes and takes over the world of spirituality, whereas the same concrete buildings and constructions keep replacing the natural green forests. With the human moral standards degraded and corroded by materialistic desires, I believe that this “Land of Peach Blossoms” exists just the same in the subconsciousness of those city-dwellers today who are still in touch with their conscience.”
Yang Yongliang – The Peach Blossom Colony
The idea is based on Tao Yuan Ming’s fable ‘The Tale of the Peach Blossom Colony’ written in 421. It tells a story of a chance discovery by a fisherman of an ethereal utopia where the people lead an ideal existence in harmony with nature, unaware of the outside world for centuries. The road to it was surrounded by blossoming peach trees and covered by peach petals.
The series started in 2008 and took the artist over three years to develop. He portrayed his ‘ancient literati’ dressed in plain clothes to avoid any apparent distinction in class, ranks, wealth or poverty as well as time period, space, and cultural boundaries.
“When viewed from a distance one sees a harmonious and quiet scene, when viewed closely one sees that it is filled with visual disorders of time and space. When one observes at a close distance one would find a lot of metaphorical elements of mechanics and modernization are hidden in the painting. The appearance of these elements immediately shatters the perceived atmosphere of peace and quietness, and produces a tension in the image right away. The originally harmonious elements have experienced a dramatically contrasting change, implying the connections and conflicts between these elements. The emergence of these contradictions expresses my all-time message and reflections on the conflicts between modern constructions and ecology, and between traditional culture and modern lifestyle.”
Dag Alveng’s series ‘I Love This Time of Year’ – multi-exposure photographs from New York streets interweaving time and space of metropolis like a quantum kaleidoscope with infinite variations of urban reality. Constructed in aesthetic symmetrical cross formed rotations, these photographs broaden the perception and ability to recognize the modern world and focus on the possibilities that acquired special meaning as an individual piece of reality.
Paul Hart’s series ‘Truncated’ (2005 – 2008) – through individual portraits of trees depicting their characters and personalities, the artist captured the spirituality, the primeval and the mystery of an ageing pine forest plantation in Derbyshire, England, as an unaffected by the modern world place of inner peace and infinity.
Paul Hart – Truncated
“A lot of these pictures were taken towards the end of the day when the light was going. It is quite ethereal then. The twilight in the forest appeared to be glowing on the branches of these trees, but only the branches – everything else was quite dark… The tightly knitted images of trees – themselves almost becoming anthropomorphic forms – show an environment where nature has self-created shelter and protection from its own elemental chaos… When you are photographing you look at it closer than normally would and be aware of the character that was portrayed and with a bit of humour I gave them names.”
Flore’s series ‘Lointains souvenirs’ – a slow long-distance journey to Indochina in the company of her grandmother and the French writer and experimental filmmaker Marguerite Duras, who both lived there once at the same time and locations.
Flore – Lointains souvenirs
It is neither a documentary of her family history nor an interpretation of the mythologies of the author. This is an intimate adventure to capture the echoes of two women’s voices and along with her own to compose a new delicate story woven from threads of melancholy tones, timeless memories and nostalgic poetry.
Guided by Marguerite Duras’s knowledge of the places in her works, Flore walked along the banks of Mekong River, the rice paddies of southern Cochin China, entered colonial houses, to find the atmosphere evoked by the imaginary she had created about these past times while visiting her grandmother’s house. This is not a simple tale about ordinary harmony and beauty, but through a kind of haze and blurred horizon, the artist immersed us into a fascinating world with enigmatic landscapes, mysterious roads and dreamlike buildings.
RongRong & inri’s ‘Tsumari Story’ – a tale about a man, a woman and their three children capturing their experiences and emotional journey in a unique and rural area as a response to primeval concepts of ‘the circle of life’ and ‘humanity as part of nature’.
The series was produced in Niigata Prefecture, one of Japan’s snowiest regions, between 2012 and 2014, following to an invitation by the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial. Because its transport network was comparatively late to upgrade, it has somewhat escaped the effects of the globalization. There, time flows according to its own rhythm and the lifestyles of those who still inhabit the villages haven’t changed for centuries.
RongRong & inri – Tsumari Story
“Our original intention for this series was to reflect a worldview based on the image created by the origin of the name of this area, “Tsumari” and its local legends. We wandered through the snow-covered maze with no clear objective, imagining a story of a man and woman who are seized by extreme emotions while living within Tsumari’s harsh natural environment.”
In her series ‘Dare alla Luce’, Amy Friend is a fairy, who by piercing holes with a magic wand allowed spots of light to pass through vintage photographs, bursting into stardust and playing like fireflies, “to bring them to light”, as a moment of re-birth of the lost souls and their stories.
Amy Friend – Dare alla Luce
“I am not specifically concerned with capturing a “concrete” reality in my photographs… Through hand-manipulated interventions I alter and subsequently re-photograph the images “re-making” photographs that oscillate between what is present and absent. I aim to comment on the fragile quality of the photographic object but also on the fragility of our lives, our history. All are lost so easily. By employing the tools of photography, I “re-use” light, allowing it to shine through the holes. In a playful and yet, literal manner, I return the subjects of the photographs back to the light, while simultaneously bringing them forward. I play with the light and use it metaphorically allowing for new readings, sometimes through heavy-handed applications and at other times delicately. The images are permanently altered; they are lost and reborn…”
Kikuji Kawada‘s series ‘The Last Cosmology’ – deeply emotional imagery of mainly stars, eclipses, cloudscapes and other celestial phenomena as a chronicle of the dramas in the skies and symbols of life and death, and the fragile nature of our existence.
The photographs were captured between 1980 and 2000, feeling a sense of nostalgic void caused by two historical events on earth: the death of the Emperor Hirohito in 1989 and the Showa Era in Japan ending with him, and the end of 20th century.
Kikuji Kawada – The Last Cosmology
“I was born at the beginning of the Showa Era. There was a great war during my boyhood and then I lived during the period of re-construction and growth and now I slowly approach the evening of life. Through these photographs the cosmology is an illusion of the firmament at the same time it includes the reality of an era and also the cosmology of a changing heart… I imagine the era and myself as an implicitly intermingling catastrophe… I want to spy on the depths of a multihued heart that is like a Karman vortex.”