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Online Salon III: Oreet Ashery, Nadia Hebson & Judy Rabinowitz Price

Thursday 18 March 2021

Join us to hear Oreet Ashery, Nadia Hebson and Judy Rabinowitz Price in conversation with each other, for the third in our series of Online Salons to facilitate exchange and dialogue between the creative community around the Gallery. Each of the three artists has created significant bodies of work over recent years that have (re)considered the lives and work of other women artists.

Oreet Ashery is a former Stanley Picker Fellow whose award-winning web series Revisiting Genesis premiered at her Fellowship exhibition in 2016. Nadia Hebson is an artist based in Stockholm, who over the past year has been the Dorich House Museum Studio Resident remotely, and recently published her contribution to Dora: Dialogue’s on Women’s Creative Practice and ThinkingJudy Rabinowitz Price‘s recent exhibition at the Gallery The End of the Sentence presented her research on Holloway Women’s Prison.

The first two Online Salons featuring Larry Achiampong, Maeve Brennan & Erika Tan and Dani Admiss, Ben Judd & The Decorators are now available to watch in full online.

Zikun Feng

Unimagined (2020-21)

Publication

Zikun Feng is a Chinese, London-based photographer interested in urban landscapes and the impact of socio/economic conditions. He has a BA in international relations and is studying MA Photography at Kingston School of Art.

In a new body of work Unimagined, Feng has created a series of conceptual images that deconstruct daily life under COVID-19 and reflects upon his emotions during the pandemic. Photographing in a studio and in his lived environment Feng focuses on props related to PPE such as face masks, hand gloves and sanitisers. This work has been created under the pressure and restrictions of endless hours and days behind closed doors in domestic environments. Feng says, “my fear of the virus transformed me into a state of numbness, irritability, insecurity, boredom and discomfort.”

The epidemic is deconstructing daily life. Life as we knew it, social and racial structures, ideologies, established orders are all being dismantled and reconstructed and survival has become the new center of life. The contradictions and tensions between entertainment, work, family and career have been replaced by security and freedom, between self-enclosure and social needs, between rationality and sensibility.

In Unimagined, Feng expresses his ambivalent emotions by enlarging these contradictions: the protection of masks versus the masks physical discomfort; needs and fears of other individuals and our dependence on information versus our skepticism about authoritative propaganda. Feng also raises broader questions through images: Which is more important, safety or freedom? Has the epidemic changed our how we value life? When daily life becomes no longer daily, what has it become?

Chen Yang

She has Always Conformed (2021)

Publication

Chen Yang was born in China in 1998. Before coming to Kingston University to study an MA in Photography, she completed a degree in Literature of Drama and Film in China.

She has Always Conformed is a deeply personal project that focuses on the complex growth issues of Chinese girls. Yang grew up in an environment which was not only full of love but also discipline. Her work is dedicated to raising awareness of how female adolescents are educated in China under strict parental control and the exaggerated standards of female morality imposed by society.

In She has Always Conformed, while living alone in the UK, Yang explores her vulnerabilities and desires as she grapples with transforming into the young women she would like to be. This rite of passage is played out through a series of self-portraits using props related to her childhood and cultural background including Chinese traditional clothes and the symbolic green paint used in Chinese state institutions. In these self-portraits her face is never revealed, her hair acting as a mask or disguise expressing shame or fear as she searches for an identity outside of the cultural and familial constraints imposed on her.

Yifan Zhou

Pandora’s Armpits (2021)

Publication

Yifan Zhou is an artist from China studying MA Photography at Kingston School of Art. Her work explores her own life experience and cultural environment. In Pandora’s Armpits, Zhou employs photomontage and collage combined with drawings and illustration to create imaginative colourful images meditating on her deeply personal relation with the world.

One of the recurrent elements in the work are images of armpits. For Zhou, the armpit is something that needs to be hidden. For her it is an intensely private and sacred part of the body that should never be shown in public. Using this as her starting point she has developed a series of montages that suggest that the armpit when opened is akin to a Pandora’s box. According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar left in her care, containing sickness, death, and many other unspecified evils which were then released into the world. Though she hastened to close the container and left behind was either hope, or the pessimistic translation deceptive expectation.

Working alone in her flat, far from home, Zhou grapples with her isolation, and an uncertain world. However, this relatively independent space also brings her inspiration and creativity.

An Sunghi

Death and Life on the Parabola (2021)

An Sunghi is a photographer from Seoul, South Korea. Her vocation as a pharmacist and maternal experiences have strengthened her realisation that emotional connection based on care and respect are as essential as material resources. Her photography serves as a route to convey the complexity of inhabiting a world of precariousness, fragility and vulnerability.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged humans across the world into being physically, mentally, socially, and economically disconnected. The daily and cumulative number of deaths from COVID-19, like a massacre, disengages us from the dignity of the last phase of human life. This current plight seems like life and death are at the same parabolic coordinate.

In Death and Life on the Parabola, Sunghi juxtaposes images of food ingredients, metaphorically representative of life, and those of graves newly formed in 2020. Her photographs of food, usually encountered in familiar places like market shelves, kitchens, and on plates, is confined to ice to imply the current state we are now facing. Death and life on the parabola suggests two lines of life and death starting from the opposite of both ends and meeting at the vertex of a parabola of freshly dug earth where the deceased are buried. Soil, as witness of the pandemic, is deemed a circular existence connecting life and death, reflecting on Sunghi’s spiritual relationship to Asian agricultural culture.

Isaac Zhang

Somniloquence (2021)

Publication

Isaac Zhang is a Chinese London-based artist. He studied BA Literature at Xiamen University and MA Photography at Kingston School of Art, London.

Zhang’s work focuses on the everyday things that surround him which he transforms into intriguing and intensely black-and-white images. His latest work Somniloquence is a journey into uncharted territory, somewhere between the commonplace and the paranormal.

A giant feather mountain, a quartz crystal, a small chapel, and a barrel set on fire… Bridging the fine line between reality and dream, the work creates a portal out of these common surroundings into a darkness-enveloping space, where light slowly penetrates. Somniloquence bears the meaning of sleep-talking, which connotes a reality-blurred dream wherein murmuring and whispering reechoes.

For more information visit Zhang’s instagram.

Kate Metzner

Moments Between Speaking (2021)

Canadian portrait photographer Kate Metzner visually narrativises the art of portrait photography in her series Moments Between Speaking (2021). After obtaining a BA in Psychology from Western University, Canada, Metzner became fascinated in understanding the intricate relationship between the photographer and the sitter. “For me, portraits should be slightly provocative and ambiguous and never one dimensional. It’s of little effort to take a picture of someone posing, but it is a very different encounter to capture someone in the moments between structured behaviour”, says Metzner. 

Often an uncomfortable environment for the person having their photo taken, Metzner focuses more on the relationship she builds with her subjects and her own motivations rather than the photo itself. In one portrait the sitter wears Metzner’s leather jacket, blurring the boundary between the photographer and the sitter, questioning who is observing who. 

Perhaps like the fire in Céline Sciamma’s striking screenplay,Portrait of Lady on Fire”, Metzner’s jacket is figurative yet also real transforming the sitter’s insecurities – a juxtaposition between self-consciousness and confidence. 

The portraits in Moments Between Speaking were taken in Metzner’s home, and have been a creative resource during the 2020/21 COVID pandemic. For Metzner, the process of shooting someone’s portrait is as much about getting to know someone as it is to generate the final image. 

For more information visit Metzner’s website and instagram.

Ziyi Ren

Our Sky Is Your Floor (2021)

Publication

Ziyi Ren, born in Guangzhou, China, is an artist working primarily with photography. She studied BA Painting at Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts and then went onto study MA Photography at Kingston School of Art, London.

In her work Ren often uses collected objects and symbols as metaphors, placing them in landscapes to conjure up and allude to multiple narratives around the fragility of human experience and memory.

Ren’s new work Our Sky Is Your Floor is named after a chapter in José Eduardo Agualusa’s novel, ‘The General Theory of Oblivion’. During the pandemic, Ren left the UK where she was studying to visit Weicheng, a small town located in Sichuan province, China, to spend time with her grandparents. Initially, days were long with little to do, and Ren barely left the house, communicating only with her grandparents a few words each day. Gradually as the days unfolded, she started to wander more inquisitively around the house and local fields with her camera noticing small details around her such as scattered wings of dragonflies, cicada shells, a crystal ball belonging to her grandmother. Ren combined and placed these locally collected fragments and objects on human skin and in the landscape to create a new body of photographic work.

In Our Sky Is Your Floor, Ren’s images create a poetic narrative that culminates in a handmade book work and installation (online). Her images convey a world at once intensely personal yet objectively restrained. The book includes photographs as well as poems and sketches. Her poems connect seemingly disparate images with questions around how we live and inhabit this earth.

For more information visit Ren’s instagram.

Kye Lim Kim

Yellow (2021)

Publication

Yellow takes its starting point from the South Korean photographer Kye Lim Kim’s experience in London after the COVID-19 outbreak. “My experience was not trivial as someone intentionally pretended not to hear me or mocked me saying ‘Ni Hao’, a Chinese phrase for hello. Whenever I walked on the street with few people, I habitually checked my back over and over.”

At the very beginning of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim’s experience of racial discrimination pushed her temporarily to return to her homeland of South Korea. On a personal level, the aftermath of this incident is that when she is out with her friends and acquaintances in Seoul, she has internalised this trauma with the habit of checking to see if there something or someone behind her. On the social level, this experience ignited her interest and intention of making public Anti-Asians racism which seems to have not surfaced as much as the deep-seated racism against African Americans.

Working with extended female family members of various ages, Kim stages a series of photographs in domestic environments. The scenes are staged to impart the emotional impact of racism; the microaggressions and how it alienates, creates shame and penetrates the body psychologically.

For more information visit Kim’s website and instagram.

Jaime Hyun-bin Jo

Shudder (The start of something beautiful) (2020-21)

Publication

Jaime Hyun-bin Jo studied electronic engineering in Seoul, Korea and then went on to do a Photography BA and MA at Kingston School of Art, London. 

Shudder brings together a series of images generated during lockdown through an exhibition and publication. 

In June 2020 working with expired analogue medium format film, Hyun-bin Jo set up a studio in his Bloomsbury apartment in London photographing female friends and models nude wearing masks. Prior to this during the lockdown, he took pictures of flowers; the reproductive organs of plants because they were easily found and offered beauty in an increasingly anxious world. As the impact of COVID-19 impeded economically and socially more and more on his life as an international student, and he lost his job taking pictures for Korean tourists in London, he returned to Seoul to continue studying from afar. On returning to Korea the work took a different turn with Hyun-bin Jo experimenting with the movement of the camera to disrupt representation and raise questions about ways of seeing in relation to the female body.   

This period has brought great self-reflection for Hyun-bin Jo, his motivations and interests in photographing women and what kind of person he would like to be. As he rethinks and rebuilds his life, photography plays a central role.

For more information visit Hyun-bin Jo’s website and instagram.