Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Modern meets ancient in Bali

Rabinowitz Gallery at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale University
80 Wall St., New Haven, (203) 432-1134
Photographs by Judy Sirota Rosenthal: Reverence in Bali: Ancient Culture, Modern Translation
May 20—Aug. 15, 2008

From Judy Sirota Rosenthal's artist statement:

I am curious about the intersections of cultures, beliefs, rituals and practices that illuminate the human experience of being embodied on earth and being in relationship to unseen planes of existence.

Images of Bali cover the walls of the Slifka Center gallery and adorn the walls of the stairwell from the first to the second floor. In keeping with her artist statement Sirota Rosenthal's take on Bali is multi-faceted. Her vision encompasses the sweep of landscape, social life, culture, religious tradition and architecture.

There is, of course, the lure of the Other, the different. The camera loves the exotic and this show is primarily a travelogue. Our eyes are attracted to the ornate carvings of Hindu and Buddhist temples, the finely patterned fabrics, the rituals and ceremonies. Sirota Rosenthal dwells on the textures of stone and rice. Colors: the turquoise, red and ochre of a rooster, the green of a rice field, the orange glow of night lighting on a Hindu temple. The textures and bright colors of intricate "rice flour creations for the Thirty Year Ceremony."

But Sirota Rosenthal also gets past difference to the point of human similarities. In separate images, young boys and young girls, well-dressed, crowd together and mug for the camera. A father and a grandfather affectionately hold a baby. In "Three Generations," a grandfather, father and young man pose for her camera, smiling. The old man's face is weathered with age, the marker of time. But time and distance—or the shrinking thereof—are marked also in the youngest man's new white t-shirt. There, imprinted on the chest in lower case lettering is "fcuk," followed by a discreet trademark symbol. Global, branded (I'll pass on offering a hyperlink to their Web site) Western corporate culture—with its épater le bourgeois faux trangressiveness—colonizing another body.


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