Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The palladium prints now on display are a subset of those in the catalogue. What they all have in common is a way of invoking the "sense of the past." They do this in several ways. First, they look old. After all they are in black and white. They are palladium prints, such as you would see in an early Weston exhibit. But they are also of old things: old buildings along the silk route, camel caravans and such. Hopefully, the "sense of the past" is an emergent property, occasioned by these overlapping aspects.
Finally, there is an historical component, even narrative, having to do with beginnings and endings. The Jade Gate is an ancient customs house through which each caravan arriving in China had to pass. Moving through the desert, the customs house would appear in an almost unrelieved desert setting, just beyond the last of the trail-guide banners of the old silk route. (You can see the tall tripods even today.) The Jade Gate is a terminus of the silk route outside of China and the beginning of the route within China along the Great Wall. The far Eastern terminus is on the East China Sea. Quinsai (now Hangzhou) was one of these destinations and is described in Marco Polo's "Travels." He describes a meeting with the deposed Southern Sung Emperor whose palace compound even then is in ruins.