Contemporary Photography Asian Perspectives showcases more than fifty works of art over the past sixty years by more than twenty Asian photographers. The overall theme that the exhibition is exploring is memory. Miyako Ishiuchi’s new piece featuring charred clothing from the tragedy of Hiroshima is paired with Shomei Tomatsu’s visual image of a watch, which stopped at 11:02 A.M., the exact moment in time an atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki. These photographs pay tribute to the victims of the atomic bombs and serve to remind us the destructive capability humanity possesses. China’s Cultural Revolution and the authoritarian rule under Chairman Mao, imposing compliance, illustrated by earlier propaganda photos from the Xinhua News Agency, gave Tseng Kwong Chi the idea for self-portraits in his "Mao suit." Reagan Louie’s photographs depicting citizens of Shanghai wearing European clothing further highlight the insurgency against submission, and the adoption of capitalism.
Fan Ho’s art reflects the return of seeing tradition through present day eyes via Ho’s cinematic depiction of mid-century Hong Kong and in Yasuhiro Ishimoto’s contemporary photos of the 17th Century Japanese villa Katsura. Ho’s photos allow us to travel to the past and experience life on the streets of Hong Kong in ways we have never done before. Using black and white prints, Toshio Shibata’s “Landscape” shows the results of the merging, and growing tension, between Japan’s mystical natural beauty and its human architects. Shibata’s images move past the physical descriptions of the landscapes, instead mixing the landscape painting with realism. Shibata’s work deals with more than just the environment, and he does not wish to disgrace humanity with his depictions of the desecration of nature. Instead, he wants to enlighten us to the full potential of our ability to both create and destroy, thus giving an opportunity to the audience to make up their own mind on the impact humanity has had on the world.
By Kevin Cleary