Conflicts and war, the sacred and the profane, the self and family. These universal themes are examined by four artists from three Asian countries in the group photography exhibition Between History and Tale: Contemporary Photography (歷史與寓言之間：當代攝影展) currently on display at Sakshi Gallery Taipei.
In Indian artist Nandini Valli Muthiah’s The Definite Reincarnate, an actor plays Vishnu, the preserver of life in the Hindu pantheon of deities. Wearing a luxurious dhoti, golden crown and jewels, the blue god enters the material world in this series of photographs. One shows him sitting on a bed in a hotel room with a hint of melancholy on his face, as if he were a traveling salesman relaxing after a long day. Another, a close-up shot of his sweaty, well-toned abdomen adorned with a jewel-encrusted belt, contrasts religious faith and material obsessions.
The conflict in Kashmir is seen through a feminine lens in Half Widows by Shilpa Gupta, a well-known Indian new-media artist whose work has been shown in Asia, Europe and the US. The triptych of photographic images shows the artist in men’s white clothing holding a flag made from the same material, and hints at the bitter experience of women in the war-torn region who can never be sure whether their husbands are alive or dead.
For her portion of the exhibit, Istanbul-based Lale Tara photographed a life-size doll modeled after the artist herself in various deserted locations to question the boundaries between what is real and what is not. In The Mother Mary With the Baby, her scantily clad double holds an infant inside a dilapidated church in a pose that brings to mind representations of the Virgin Mary in Christian art. The image plays with stereotypes of women as sex objects and mothers.
Representing Taiwan is Penghu-born artist Chen Shun-chu (陳順築), whose latest series Distance in Memory (記憶的距離) uses blurred, out-of-focus images to meditate on the ambiguous, deceitful and constantly changing nature of memory.
Curator Gladys Lin (林瑀希) says she scheduled Between History and Tale to run after an exhibit of work by American photographer Gregory Crewdson (who is known for his surreal and ghostly scenes of American homes) so that gallerygoers could make comparisons between the East and the West.
Lin, who is the Mumbai-based Sakshi’s East Asia regional director, says the works in Between History and Tale all have an “Asian aura,” though it is up to the viewer to work out exactly what that means.
Visitors may also want to check out a smaller exhibition titled Whispering in Chiang Mai Forest (清邁聲林) at Sakshi Taipei’s informal salon, a three-minute walk from the main exhibition space. The show pairs delicate charcoal paintings of women in Chiang Mai by Thai painter Natthawut Singthong with Sound Bulb (聲泡), a sound installation by pioneering Taiwanese sound artist Wang Fu-jui (王福瑞).
WHAT: Between History and Tale: Contemporary Photography (歷史與寓言之間：當代攝影展) and Whispering in Chiang Mai Forest (清邁聲林)
WHERE: Sakshi Gallery (夏可喜當代藝術), 33 Yitong Street, Taipei City (台北市伊通街33號). TEL: (02) 2516-5386
WHEN: Between History and Tale runs until May 2. Whispering in Chiang Mai Forest runs until April 24. Open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 1:30pm to 9:30pm and Sundays from 1:30pm to 7:30pm
ON THE NET: www.sakshigallery.com.tw
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