Yuk King Tan is one of New Zealand’s best-known young contemporary artists. Exhibiting for the first time in Vietnam in a solo exhibition, she explores perennial human needs and desires in the context of the urgent economic development of industrial cities, through video, photography and a series of ‘drawings’.
The multi-layered works presented in Shelter are created in an extraordinary and unique way. Photographs are first printed onto the paper, which is then ‘smoked’ with candles to create a dark cloudy background – as if an inversion of the tonality of Chinese ‘mountains and mist’ painting or an upset in the cosmology. This surface is then etched back, and exquisite images of human figures, bridges or factories are drawn or painted on. With titles such as Boomtown and Ghosts of Tent City, the artist’s work creates a poignant portrayal of humankind’s desire to forge ahead economically, but at the same time questions the human and environmental costs of this desire. Tan states: “As I make the works I think about diverse ideas about society and social order, cities and the needs of civilization….also city plans and architectural diagrams. Like the dramas of a master-city builder who by day plans the future of a city and by night has hallucinations about its past and present.”
Nevertheless, Tan’s engagement with these issues is by no means geographically specific. Her commentary is quite relevant in the Vietnamese context of rapid economic development which occurs often at the cost of human health and environmental degradation.
Also featured in the exhibition is a video work, I am the light of the world, in which Tan uses firecrackers to create images – a technique that is her signature. Firecrackers are attached to the wall, outlining a portrait of New Zealand missionaries active in China in the 1920s, and are then lit. The image bursts and crackles apart for the next 5 minutes. Shelter has been curated by a little blah blah (albb) – an initiative by two HCMC-based visual artists, Sue Hajdu and Motoko Uda. albb functions as a platform for contemporary art through the organization and curation of a range of art activities such as exhibitions and events. Please visit http://albbsaigon.blogspot.com for more information.
Exhibition dates: November 28 – December 13, 2006
Opening reception for the artist: Tuesday, the 28th of November, 6 – 8 PM
Galerie Quynh. 23 Ly Tu Trong Street. HCMC
Posted by on November 27, 2006 11:55 AM | Permalink