Perspectives: Minouk Lim
November 19, 2011–March 18, 2012
The Rivers Restoration Project, one of the largest construction projects in South Korea's history, has elicited considerable debate. In response, Seoul-based artist Minouk Lim staged a performance as the basis of her video The Weight of Hands. Capturing this silent ritual with a thermal imaging camera, Minouk Lim questions the effects of dramatic environmental change on the individual's sense of place and self.
Perspectives: Hale Tenger
July 30-November 6, 2011
Multimedia artist Hale Tenger (born 1960, Izmir, Turkey) creates videos and installations that examine the tangible and intangible traces of events. From 2005 to 2007, Tenger filmed the façade of the St. George Hotel in Beirut—the site of the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon—while it was being renovated. Gently flapping curtains, shifting light, and Serdar Ateser's simple musical composition evoke a historical moment with profound repercussions that still haunt this physical space.
Perspectives: Lu Chunsheng
March 19–July 17, 2011
The 2011 Perspectives series will focus on single-projection videos, beginning with History of Chemistry I by Lu Chunsheng (b. 1968, Changchun, China), a renowned photographer and video artist now living in Shanghai. A mesmerizing experience of a vaguely familiar but remote world, History of Chemistry I follows a group of men as they wander from somewhere beyond the edge of the sea through a vast landscape to an abandoned steel factory. Using long shots and remote settings, Lu Chunsheng enigmatically refers to a distant history while conveying the sense of dislocation wrought by modernization.
Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall
September 25, 2010–January 16, 2011
This exhibition of photographs and videos by Fiona Tan, who was born in Indonesia in 1966 and now lives in Amsterdam, is the first major presentation of her work in the United States.
Perspectives: Hai Bo
March 27, 2010–Feburary 27, 2011
The speed and scale of change in contemporary China has been registered by a number of artists exploring the country's cities and industrial remnants. In stark contrast, Hai Bo (born 1962, Changchun, China) looks to the desolate plains of northeastern China. Trained as a painter, Hai Bo took up photography in the 1980s as he became captivated by the camera's ability to stop time and evoke memories. For over two decades, he has been returning to his hometown in Jilin Province to capture the people and places of his youth, creating deeply moving portraits of resilience amidst the growing isolation of rural China. Featuring five stunning, large scale photographs from his Northern Series, this exhibition offers moments to enter the vast panoramas of the artist's childhood memories, observe the subtle changes of nature across seasons, and encounter the gentle transience of life.
Moving Perspectives: Yeondoo Jung
November 21, 2009–March 14, 2010
Through photography and video, Yeondoo Jung, who was born in Jinju, Korea, in 1969, invites viewers into the dreams and memories of others. In two new video works, including a multi-screen installation, anonymous strangers are filmed as they recall moments in their lives. While they share their stories of past loves, youthful ambitions, hardship, and lifelong secrets, a team of stagehands reconstructs the settings for these memories. Jung emphasizes the artifice of each scene by orchestrating clever set recreations and filming the process from beginning to end, or by manipulating camera angles and lighting effects in long outdoor sequences. Ultimately, these videos suggest that, when filtered through nostalgia and the passage of time, reality exists somewhere between truth and imagination.
Perspectives: Anish Kapoor
November 22, 2008 – February 28, 2010
The "Perspectives" series of contemporary Asian art resumes with "S-Curve" (2006) by internationally renowned Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor. Consisting of two sixteen-foot lengths of polished steel that are gently curved to create a continuous convex and concave wall, the work recalls the exploration of form that Kapoor most famously presented in "Cloud Gate" in Chicago's Millennium Park. At a height of seven feet and with highly reflective surfaces, "S-Curve" engages viewers in a powerful physical and visual experience within the Sackler Gallery. Known for his sublime approach to pure form, space, and materials since the early 1980s, Kapoor continues to examine spatial perception and the immateriality of the object through this work.
Moving Perspectives: Shahzia Sikander / Sun Xun
July 18 – November 8, 2009
Trained in Pakistan and in the United States, Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969, Lahore, Pakistan) deftly reinterprets miniature painting by isolating and abstracting formal compositional elements often found in this densely layered and intricate art form. The dynamism of her paintings is set in motion in her video works, where the repetition of abstract forms becomes a buzzing hive, calligraphy whirls in and out of view, and imaginary curves morph into vivid landscapes. Similarly, Sun Xun (b. 1980, Fuxin, China) creates hundreds of paintings and drawings by using old newspapers or entire blank walls. Filming his hand-drawn images, he transforms clocks, magicians, words, and insects into animated symbols that flicker across the screen in dark allegories on the nature of historical consciousness and the passage of time.
Moving Perspectives: Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba/Fiona Tan
March 14–July 5, 2009
The lush landscape of Laos is the setting for a series of performances by art students from Luang Prabang in The Ground, the Root, and the Air: The Passing of the Bodhi Tree (2007), a single-channel video by Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba. The work culminates in a dramatic moment that captures the younger generation's struggle to reconcile a rich cultural and religious heritage with the rapid currents of global economic and social change. The endurance of ritual in contemporary society is a starting point in Fiona Tan's stunning video installation, Saint Sebastian. With careful attention to images and sound, Tan transports the viewer into a sensual experience of a centuries-old Japanese tradition that marks a woman's coming-of-age. In so doing, she comments on the history of moving image and the role of the visual in shaping perceptions of "exotic" cultures.
Moving Perspectives: Lida Abdul / Dinh Q Lé
December 6, 2008 – March 1, 2009
Lida Abdul from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Dinh Q Lé from Ha-Tien, Vietnam, use video to explore the shifting memory of trauma and the inevitable resilience of life. Drawing on recent histories of conflict and destruction, both artists returned to their native countries to explore societies in transition. After years of living in India and the West, Abdul returned to Kabul in 2001 where she has created a series of short performance-based videos staged among the ruins of her homeland. In "Bricksellers of Kabul" (2006) and her most recent work, "In Transit" (2008), children retrieve the debris of war and turn them into objects for survival and play.
Similarly, Dinh Q Lé returned to Vietnam to examine the war within the context of contemporary Vietnamese society. For Lé, who grew up in the United States, the Vietnam War is an amalgamation of distant childhood memories, documentary materials, and Hollywood films. In "The Farmers and the Helicopters" (2006), he focuses on the helicopter both as a "death machine" and as a technological dream. Using the multichannel video format, Lé juxtaposes contemporary interviews and images of the rural landscape with film footage to reveal more complex narratives surrounding memory in a changing postwar Vietnam
Moving Perspectives: Yang Fudong, Cao Fei and Ou Ning
September 6–November 30, 2008
Moving Perspectives presents a year-long series of recent video works that provide rich sensory experiences of the many changes taking place in contemporary Asia. Internationally renowned artist Yang Fudong expands upon Chinese painting and folklore to create dreamlike environments permeated with a sense of dislocation and loss. In Liu Lan (2003), a young man in a modern suit and a traditionally dressed woman meet while a female voice sings a plaintive folk song about separated lovers, creating an eloquent metaphor for the distance between the past and the pursuit of an uncertain future. This lyrical approach vividly contrasts with San Yuan Li (2003) by Cao Fei and Ou Ning. Its fast-paced montage, sharp camera angles, and pulsating sound underscore the rapid change, architectural density, and constant activity that are overtaking China's urban landscape.
Perspectives: Y.Z. Kami
March 15–Oct. 13, 2008
The Perspectives series of contemporary Asian art resumes with an exhibition of new works by artist Y.Z. Kami. Born in Tehran, Y.Z. Kami draws from Eastern and Western aesthetic and mystical traditions to create large-scale works that explore the movement between the physical world and the inward spiritual journey. A student of philosophy, he developed a particular interest in the human face and its relationship to the divine which has inspired several groups of portraits.
This exhibition presents two monumental portraits from his current series depicting individuals in meditation. Each subject, rendered with a soft focus and simple palette, emanates a sense of peace and introspection. In the third and largest work on view, poetry and religious architecture also give form to the divine. Using collage and verses from the Massnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), the artist arranges words like bricks in a spiral of calligraphy that invokes the feeling of looking through a dome or the ecstatic movement of a ritual dance.
Perspectives: Simryn Gill
September 2, 2006–April 29, 2007
[ View the Online Exhibition ]
This was the first major exhibition in the United States of contemporary artist Simryn Gill (born 1959) and presented three works created between 1992 and 2006. Consisting of found objects poetically transformed by Gill, her works examine relationships among nature, culture and knowledge. The works reveal a transnational perspective, evocatively referring to passages of material and literary cultures across borders. She has exhibited extensively in Asia, Europe and Australia.
Hiroshi Sugimoto: History of History
April 1–July 30, 2006
[ View the Online Exhibition ]
Comprised of more than 80 works, History of History juxtaposed Sugimoto's own photographs, selected from the artist's well-known series of seascapes, natural history dioramas and wax museum figures, with an enormous range of geological specimens and traditional Japanese and ritual artifacts drawn from Sugimoto's private collection. His preoccupation with the passage of time and spirituality takes on concrete, multiple forms, as he placed his photographs in the contexts of the history of Japanese art, civilization and ritual.
Perspectives: Mei-ling Hom
August 27, 2005–March 5, 2006
[ View the Online Exhibition ]
Floating Mountains, Singing Clouds, a site-specific installation by Chinese-American artist Mei-ling Hom, consisted of 30 cloud-like forms and an original Chinese flute (xiao) composition by American composer Eli Marshall. The hexnet (chicken wire) clouds floated at staggered levels in the carefully lit but darkened space creating an elusive landscape-in-space that translated traditional Chinese landscape paintings into the contemporary register of installation art.
Cai Guo-Qiang — "Traveler: Reflection"
October 30, 2004–April 24, 2005
[ View the Online Exhibition ]
Traveler by Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang was a two-part exhibition at the Sackler and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Reflection, a site-specific installation at the Sackler, invited visitors to ponder the interactions between past and present cultures within a museum dedicated to the preservation of the past. The weathered hull of a fishing boat, excavated off the coast of Japan, was installed upon an "ocean" of porcelain fragments of deities from Dehua, China. Exhibited at the same time as China and Iraq, an exhibition that explored the transformative effect of imported luxury Chinese goods on 9th-century Iraqi ceramics, Reflection commented on cultural interaction. The Sackler installation was linked to the Hirshhorn where Unlucky Year: Unrealized Projects from 2003-2004 presented a selection of Cai's signature gunpowder drawings.
Perspectives: Do-Ho Suh
April 17–September 26, 2004
The fourth in Suh's series of monumental staircases, Staircase-IV replicated in translucent red nylon fabric the staircase in the artist's New York apartment in 1:1 scale, complete with architectural detail that created an uncanny sense of the real while transforming density into lightness and the concrete into the remembered. The flight of stairs rose high above the ground up to an expansive plateau representing the apartment floor above. Staircase-IV invoked movement, impermanence and the promise of transcendence along the passage from one level to another.
Perspectives: Yayoi Kusama
August 30, 2003 –March 21, 2004
The Sackler gallery inaugurated its program of contemporary installations in the Pavilion with two works by the renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, recognized for her role in Post-Minimalist and feminist art. The focus on repetition in her work was highlighted with Dots Obsession (1999), an installation composed of six giant white balloons covered with red polka dots that proliferated over the walls of the Pavilion. The balloons hovered playfully above Infinity Mirrored Room Love Forever (1996), a hexagonal, mirrored box with an opening into a kaleidoscopic vision of balls and light. By dissolving the Pavilion's surface into pattern, Kusama's works drew the visitor into a seductive yet unsettling world.
Kenro Izu: Sacred Sites Along the Silk Road
June 9, 2002–January 5, 2003
Japanese-born New York photographer Kenro Izu is best known for his photographs of the ancient Buddhist temples at Angkor, Cambodia, his still-life images of decaying flowers and sensuous nudes. This exhibition of large format platinum prints focused on monasteries, royal tombs, ancient cities and small personal shrines set amid the immense grandeur of the Himalayas or vast and desolate deserts in western China, Ladakh, and Tibet. Emphasizing both beauty and decay, these photographs serve as commentaries on the passage of time marked in a range of Buddhist achievements and expressions that spread across the Asian landscape.
Word Play: Contemporary Art by Xu Bing
October 21, 2001–May 12, 2002
[ View the Online Exhibition ]
A leader in the avant-garde movement that emerged in China between the end of the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square massacre, Xu Bing is recognized as one of the most important Chinese artists to emerge during the last 30 years. This was the first major exhibition of his work since 1991 and included A Book from the Sky (Tianshu) consisting of books and scrolls printed using two thousand unreadable imitation "Chinese characters" invented by the artist to express humankind's struggle with communication. Other works on view, Square Word Calligraphy ,The New English Calligraphy, A,B,C, large landscripts (calligraphic landscapes) and a classroom demystified the art of calligraphy and addressed issues of communication while also offering visitors the opportunity to experiment with calligraphic tools.
Auto-focus: Raghubir Singh's Way Into India
March 8–August 10, 2003
Raghubir Singh, celebrated for his visual essays on India and his role as a pioneer of color photography, drew inspiration from the work of the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson and captured decisive moments that reveal the distinctive palette of India. In his last pictorial cycle, A Way into India, Singh focused on the Ambassador car in which he traveled as he documented the Indian landscape over a 30-year period. This exhibition featured 48 of these vibrant photographs that express "a life which is endowed with every shade of color from the peacock's plume to the black of the elephant to the weathered landscape of the farmer's face."
Devi by Ravinder Reddy
November 4 – March 17, 2002
By layering elements of traditional Hindu imagery and contemporary popular culture, and using modern materials and traditional sculptural methods, Reddy transforms an ordinary woman into a monumental, richly colored sculpture of the great goddess. On view in the Sackler Pavilion, visitors were greeted by Devi, one of Reddy's iconic heads with large lotus-shaped eyes recall images of Hindu deities and brightly colored South Indian temple gateways. His subjects, however, are females of various classes—prostitutes, bonded laborers, untouchables and people from tribal communities—whose images have been made precious through the use of gold and enlarged scale.
Constructing Identities: Recent Work by Jananne al-Ani
November 21, 1999–February 28, 2000
Jananne al-Ani uses photography to explore the popularized image of the Near Eastern woman as a point of departure for examining the construction of identity across generations and cultures. Two pairs of large-format photographs, five pairs of transparencies and a slide show greeted visitors to the gallery's first presentation of contemporary works by an artist from the Islamic world. Addressing a topical issue—Orientalism, in particular, the Orientalist representation of women—the images seek to examine and deconstruct the stereotypes based on the "mystery and exoticism" that Westerners commonly associate with the veiled women of west Asia.