NOTRE DAME, IN.- The Snite Museum of Art
presents the exhibition Caroline Chiu: Polaroids as Chinese Ink Painting on view through April 25, 2010.
These photographs are taken from Hong Kong artist Caroline Chiu's larger series entitled Dreaming: A Chinese Wunderkammer. Wunderkammer were 17th-and 18th-century European "wonder rooms" or "cabinets of curiosity"-some of the earliest known "museums"-which contained specimens reflecting the natural world, anthropology, archaeology, relics, and art. The late Qing emperor Qianlong, known for his passion for the arts, also pursued this type of collecting.
In Chiu's case, she collects, by photography, objects representing the material culture of traditional China: bonsai, scholar's rocks, flowers, artworks depicting the animal zodiac, and here, goldfish. Her choice of subjects makes reference to historical Chinese culture; her graphic photographic images of goldfish suggest the brushstrokes of traditional Chinese ink painting and the sweeping abstract shapes of Chinese writing.
Because the images were taken with a rare 24 x 20 inch Polaroid camera-for which film is no longer manufactured nor available-the exhibition is also an elegy to the era of Polaroid cameras and film. Indeed, it may mark the passing of film media in favor of digital photography.
Describing her planned installation, Chiu indicates: Individual photographs will be installed in series from three to nine images so that the swimming of the goldfish appears continuous and fluid. The photographs will be accompanied by an aquarium replicating the dimensions of the gallery and replete with live goldfish. The change in scale between the actual aquarium and the depiction of the gallery as an enormous aquarium will be enhanced by sounds of splashing water-so the viewer might imagine themself swimming among the goldfish. That is, I hope to create dissonances of scale by creating conflicting perceptions of looking into the actual aquarium while simultaneously feeling contained within a larger aquarium.
Concurrent to this Snite Museum of Art exhibition, Chiu will also create a five-day installation (April 12-16 at the Snite Museum of Art) entitled 108 Thoughts on Spirituality. The installation will consist of projected images of flames, photographs of flames, music from various sacred traditions, sacred smells, a space to meditate and an opportunity for audience members to respond to questions about spirituality by writing or drawing upon Chiu's photographs. Participants will receive one of Chiu's photographs in appreciation for their commentary on spirituality.
The artist will speak during a 5 to 6 p.m. reception on Thursday, April 15, 2010.