With a unique capacity to explore nostalgia, memory, and absence, Cyrus Tang’s arresting new body of work is a powerful elegy on damage and loss, existence and presence.
For her second solo exhibition at ARC ONE Gallery, Tang continues her project of paradoxically reconstructing and recording ephemeral mental images and sensations in permanent materials. In this latest suite of photographic work, she employs the concept of the ‘Golden Hour’ to further her meditations on humanity.
The term first came to prominence during World War One where it was used by medics to describe the critical liminality between life and death experienced by battlefield trauma patients; that narrow window of time when medical intervention can still have a successful outcome.
The term is also used by landscape photographers to articulate the transition of light between night and day. Here the ‘Golden Hour’ refers to a brief period just before sunset, or just after sunrise, when the harsher contrast of daytime is reduced and light has a gentle glow and appears rounded and mellow, with long and soft shadows.
These two meanings inform this exhibition as Tang considers the balance of life and death associated with trauma and the transition between light and dark in her juxtaposition of two aesthetically disparate series of photographs which explore experiences of damage and loss.
In her haunting cityscapes, Tang has used high speed still photography to chronicle the destruction of a model city as it is repeatedly bombarded. Brutalist inspired high fired porcelain architectural structures erupt into dust evoking all too familiar contemporary media images of humanity at crisis point.
While in her portraits of friends, acquaintances, and strangers with Chinese cultural backgrounds, Tang has used overlaid long exposure times to record her sitters’ reactions to films related
to Hong Kong, Chinese cultural issues or history. The overlaid exposure times trace the facial expressions, shifts in movement, comfort and discomfort, absorption and impatience of her sitters as they watch these films for up to three hours. This extended period of reflection exposes private memories and emotions to Tang’s lens, producing images that are a powerful confluence of past and present.
Born in Hong Kong, Cyrus Tang moved to Australia in 2003. She completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) at the Victoria College of the Arts, Melbourne, in 2004, and her Master of Fine Arts (Research) at Monash University, Melbourne, in 2009. Cyrus has participated in a number of residency programmes, including Helsinki International Artist Program (2013); The National Art Studio in South Korea (2012); Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2009); and the Banff Centre, Canada (2008). She was the recipient of the Asialink Grant (2012); the Australian Council for
the Arts Skills and Arts Development Grant (2011) and New Work (Emerging) Grant (2009);
the Georges Mora Fellowship (2008); Theodor Urback Encouragement Award (2004); and The National Gallery of Victoria-Trustee Award (2003). Her works have been shown across Australia and in various countries internationally, including Finland, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, France, China and Sweden. She currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
Special thanks to John Young, Theodore Wohng, Pei Pei He, Sung Ling, Nikki Lam, Sophia Cai, Charles Lai, Zhong Chen, Yifeng Tan, Chonggang Du for their participation in this project.