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Snite exhibits feature Chinese artist

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It’s not every day you see an artist wielding a Polaroid camera bigger than she is.

Hong Kong artist Caroline Chiu has two exhibitions currently in the Snite Museum of Art, both featuring her photographs taken with at 20 inch by 24 inch Polaroid camera, one of six in the world, a Museum press release stated.
“Though complex in its creation, the experience is one of simplistic beauty that anyone can appreciate,” said Assistant Public Relations and Marketing Director for the Museum Michelle Nguyen, a senior.
Chiu’s two exhibitions are similar only in the artist’s name.
“Polaroids as Chinese Ink Painting” are selections taken from Chiu’s larger series “Dreaming: A Chinese Wunderkammer,” a Museum press release stated. The selections feature goldfish as the main photographic subject.
“She creates visual poetry with her photographs of goldfish, as her style mimics that of Chinese ink painting,” Nguyen said. “The use of Polaroid film, the large format camera for magnification and steady patience that goes into capturing each frame is apparent.
“She achieves her goal of making her photographs look so much like the skillful brushstrokes of Chinese art.”
Film is no longer made for the camera she uses, making her images extremely rare and the exhibit into a tribute for Polaroid photography, Nguyen said.
Within the exhibit will also be a fish tank containing the same breed of fish photographed.
“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 viewers might imagine themselves swimming among the goldfish,” Chiu said in a press release. “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.”
Chiu’s other installation, titled “108 Thoughts on Spirituality,” is an interactive project asking the audience to respond to questions on spirituality.
The installation will have projected images of flames, photographs of flames, music from various sacred traditions, sacred smells, a meditation space and an opportunity for viewers to write or draw on Chiu’s photographs in response.
“Being an active participant in an installation that is created specifically with Notre Dame in mind will be a wonderful experience, especially at a school where spirituality is ever present,” Nguyen said.
Participants will be given a Chiu photograph in gratitude for their contributions, Nguyen said.
“Polaroids as Chinese Ink Painting” will run until April 25, while “108 Thoughts on Spirituality” will run until April 16. Chiu will speak during a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.