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Tears of Eros - The Nunnery

Exhibition preview

TEARS of Eros, an exhibition of the work of critically acclaimed Chinese photographer Tian Taiquan, will be on display at The Nunnery from October 29 to November 8, 2009.

The exhibition showcases a series of photographic installations from a collection of Taiquan’s past and present works. His self-described Revolutionary Pictures, provide provoking imagery and commentary of a lost but not forgotten time in Chinese history – the Cultural Revolution.

Taiquan tackles metaphysical issues of life and death poetically, yet skeptically through the use of photographic technology. Taking what is said to be the only preserved Red Guard cemetery in Chongqing as his setting, Taiquan’s fictional reconstruction of historical environments establishes a tone of authority, telling the viewer that this is a factual image; this is the truth.

The graveyard where the red guards are laid to rest becomes a site of controversial historical authenticity less for the content it provides, and more for Taiquan’s use of digital image manipulation. Taiquan’s is a graveyard of neither the past nor present. What the artist aims to illustrate in his fictionalized iconography is not the cemetery, but rather the ghosts and spirits that inhabit it.

Superimposed with images of female bodies, we are brought into a space where sex and death are blurred. By juxtaposing mutilated naked female bodies against an isolated and decrepit graveyard, the ghosts are likened to a dark yet arousing fantasy world of the artist.

Taiquan’s comment on contemporary society manages to be specific to the local situation, while remaining universal. By linking the historical with the contemporary, he makes statements on the social situation in present-day China, as well as providing an aesthetic quality. The graveyard is a proverbial site for the exploration of buried truths.

In The Tears of Eros philosopher Georges Bataille discusses correlations between the beauty of divine ecstasy and fear of torture. Taiquan’s spirit-bodies placed amidst an isolated and solemn graveyard bring to mind Bataille’s divine eroticism. Their severed corpses are not as sadistic as they are melancholic, adorned by subtle lighting and shadow.

The Nunnery, 183 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ.

Telephone: 020 7538 1719.