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Smoke & Mirrors

art and culture Updated: Aug 13, 2011 00:51 IST
Paramita Ghosh
Paramita Ghosh
Hindustan Times
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Last night while watching another re-run of Zhang Yimou’s brilliant visuals in the film Curse of the Golden Flower, I was struck by how much he loved his country.

China in his films is a photographic spectacle, a land ruled by strong, stable hands, a mighty army — and spoilsport rebels.

In Curse, however, he slipped in a message: a nation might kill its strongest and its best if it does not accept its own dissidents.

The exhibition, ‘Chinese Photography Now’, to be hosted by Tasveer from August 19 (at The Park and Art Motif Gallery,) of six photographers from China, is a joint statement of sorts saying pretty much the same thing.

“There does seem to be an element of nostalgia in much of the work here, as well as an attempt at preservation. This is quite natural with photography, as notions of memory, loss and an attachment to the past are synonymous with the medium itself,” says London-based curator Nathaniel Gaskell.

Yang Yongliang’s digitally constructed landscapes which borrow motifs from Chinese scroll paintings to comment on the contemporary issue of rapid industrialisation in the country; Chu Chu’s lament in the ‘It is Not it — Tools’ series on the role of tools, once so central to people’s cultural identity in a communist China; Luo Yongjin’s nostalgia for native architectural styles seen through her critique of new private houses, Yan Xinfa’s close-up on the the rituals and traditions of peasant communities in central China, — all point to artistic practices that seem to demand that China’s rise be consistent with its history of socialist revolution.