Gayle Chong Kwan - The Obsidian Isle

'The Obsidian Isle' is a significant new body of work for Chong Kwan which documents a fictional island located off the west coast of Scotland, on which reside one country's lost and destroyed buildings and places. Presented as an installation of photographic and sculptural works, 'The Obsidian Isle' explores collective history, national identity, and landscape and tourism through the prism of the senses and the distortion of memories. From structures that fell into dereliction after the Highland Clearances, buildings destroyed during the Second World War, places torn down to make way for new developments, or structures that collapsed due to poor construction, the island is a place where visitors are invited to remember or possibly to collectively 'forget'. 'The Obsidian Isle' questions what is kept, what remains, what falls into ruin or is destroyed, what persists and how these can be altered by memories, myth or competing histories. The works in 'The Obsidian Isle' ten large-scale large-format photographs, sculptural sensory aids for use on the island, a series of oval 'mirrored' works, tactile 'blind' photographic prints, a cyclorama map of the island, a limited edition publication with wrap around map, and a final print in which the view of the island is almost completely obscured by a storm - provide different and sometimes contradictory versions of the island itself.

Chong Kwan's 'The Obsidian Isle' refers to a controversial literary work. Ossian, the blind 3rd century poet who was 'discovered' by James Macpherson in the 18th Century, was presented to the public as the narrator and supposed author, of a cycle of epic poems. Supposedly translated from fragments of ancient sources in Scots Gaelic, it aroused huge controversy: Samuel Johnson called Macpherson "a mountebank, a liar, and a fraud, and that the poems were forgeries"; Hugh Blair upheld its authenticity; and a Committee for the Highlands was set up to investigate its sources and the veracity of Macpherson's claims. Ossian was hugely influential in the development of ideas of the Scottish landscape and notions of national identity at home and abroad: Napoleon was said to carry a copy with him; Ingres painted the 'Dream of Ossian' and places inspired by and named after Ossian, such as Fingal's Cave in Staffa, and Ossian's Cave in Drumkeld, became major tourist attractions.

Developed in partnership with Ricefield Chinese Arts and Cultural Centre, and through work-in-progress events and a symposium organised by Chong Kwan, 'The Ossianic Landscape', at Glasgow Project Room (Trongate 103) in April 2010.

The exhibition was produced in partnership with Peacock Visual Arts, Aberdeen and was previewed at the New Forest Pavilion, 54th Biennale di Venezia, 2011, shown at Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow, 15 October 11 December 2011 and Galleria Uno + Uno, Milan, 2 February 30 March 2012.
Gayle Chong Kwan  - The Obsidian Isle


Event Title: Gayle Chong Kwan - The Obsidian Isle
Postcode: 21 Castle St, Aberdeen AB11 5BQ
Further Details:
- Visit the Peacock Visual Arts website
- Visit Gayle Chong Kwan's website" target="_blank"> - Visit the Peacock Visual Arts website
- Visit Gayle Chong Kwan's website