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Talking Stones: A photographic sojourn by Elaine Ling published by Kehrer Verlag
Isla de Pascua, Easter Island 2001.


NEW YORK, NY.- A shaman stone sends its song across the Gobi desert. Tibetan prayer flags flutter in the wind blowing prayers into the blue sky from a celebratory rock at Namtso Lake. Pictograms found in cliffs in the American Southwest, Africa, Australia, and Asia bear witness to the close relationship of man to the spirit world. Natural rocks stand majestically at their empowered sites.

For thirty years, exuberant adventurer, traveler and photographer Elaine Ling traversed four continents with her 4x5 camera loaded with the now extinct Polaroid 55 PN film to document ancient stones. Her goal was to gather the stories these mysterious architectural wonders tell us about the vanished cultures of our human ancestors and nature itself.

Talking Stones (Kehrer Verlag, March 29, 2016) gathers 120 black-and-white images chosen by Ling from tens of thousands of negatives accumulated during her exhaustive journeys. Collectively, these photographs offer a stunning and unprecedented global view of remarkable stones that Ling describe as "powerful guardians of the earth."

Drawn to unpeopled landscapes and the abandoned architectures of ancient civilizations that once inhabited them, Ling discovered and photographed stones in their natural states, as well as stones assembled, sculpted, drawn and written upon by man. Stones depicted in the book include: The Joshua Tree in the American Southwest, the ruins of Petra in Jordan, the Buddhist temples of Myanmar, the ancient caves of Cappadocia, Turkey, the polished rocks in Australia's Kangaroo Islands, the stone warrior engravings in Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, the gigantic natural megaliths in the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, and Deer and Turkic stones in Mongolia.

William L. Fox, an art critic, science writer, and Director of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno contributes an essay to the book. The foreword is penned by Wade Davis, an explorer and Professor of Anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia. Davis was recently named by the National Geographic Society as one of the "Explorers for the Millennium."

Davis writes: "Surely what draws us to these ancient works of art and architecture so beautifully illustrated in this book is what they reveal about yearning and devotion, commitment and connection, the sacred and the stone ... This is the power of stone, at once fluid and static, eternal and fleeting, the perfect template for the human imagination and spirit."

Acclaimed artist and photographer Ed Burtynsky has described Talking Stones as "... the most comprehensive body of work by a visual artist about the most compelling and spiritually charged stones still residing among us... This beautiful and timely book arrives as the anxiety of our times causes many of us to wonder just how long our current monuments of stone will endure."

An accompanying exhibition of select works from Talking Stones will be on view at the Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto in the gallery reception area from January 20 to February 28, 2016. Ryerson will also present a talk and book signing with Elaine Ling on Wednesday, February 10 at 6pm. The address is: 33 Gould Street, Toronto, Ontario M5B 2K3. For more information, go here.

Elaine Ling is most at home backpacking her view camera across the great deserts of the world and sleeping under the stars. Born in Hong Kong, Elaine Ling has lived in Canada since the age of nine. Upon arrival in Canada, Elaine was exhilarated by the freedom of space and began her attraction to Stone and places of Nature. She studied the piano, the cello and medicine. Since receiving her medical degree from the University of Toronto, she has practiced family medicine among various First Nations peoples in Canada's North and Pacific Northwest as well as on the other side of the world, in Abu Dhabi and Nepal.

Ling's photographs are in the permanent collections of numerous museums and private collections including the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France; Fotografie Forum International, Frankfurt, Germany; Museet for Fotokunst, Odense, Denmark; Centro Portugues de Fotografia, Porto, Portugal; Scavi Scaligeri International Centre of Photography, Verona, Italy; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; Fototeca de Cuba, Havana, Cuba; Lishui Museum of Photography, China; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, Florida; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

When not photographing, Dr. Ling practices family medicine in Toronto and plays cello in Orchestra Toronto. In 2009, Ling produced her first book: Mongolia, Land of the Deer Stone, published by Lodima Press.






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