Mountain Pass: Negotiating Ambivalence – A Solo Exhibition by Zen Teh
Ruang B and Ruang Sayap - Selasar Sunaryo Art Space
Jl Bukit Pakar Timur No. 100, Ciburial, Cimenyan, Bandung
18 January - 17 February 2019
Zen Teh’s photography-based works are a result of an interdisciplinary investigation of Bandung’s human-landscape interaction. For her residency in Bandung, Teh extends upon her ongoing project on the Anthropocene in several Southeast Asian cities. Anthropocene refers to the current geological epoch. Although the term Anthropocene is still debatable among scientists, it is undeniable that human has been responsible for much environmental degradation under existing political-economic systems that exert demands on the land and its natural resources.
The Dago Pakar area is a research locus for Teh’s work, whereby she uncovered geomorphological and geological insights on the area. She is interested in the currently operating construction site at Resor Dago Pakar, a luxury settlement built by developers since the late 1980s on a hill across the present site of SSAS.
Teh’s works in this exhibition incorporate soil, rocks and metal which are mostly found in the research locations. These materials are juxtaposed with one another, arranged, and added to suggest human intervention of nature. The addition is shown through imprinting photographic images on the surface of some of these found objects. Through Teh’s hand printing process, the images are manipulated from the photographic images captured by the camera, thus they are the product of physical engagements between the material and Teh’s own hand. This practice reduces the distant relationship between human and nature through mechanical reproduction, as well as the distant indexical character of photography as an instrument of observing nature for knowledge production.
The exhibition title Mountain Pass: Negotiating Ambivalence reflects the process of Teh residency in Bandung, where she spent a significant amount of time walking and observing hills and mountains. In particular, the representation of mountain is pertinent in Teh’s body of works. The phrase “Negotiating Ambivalence” is directed towards an instance where Teh discovered that developers are able to negotiate with (violate) rules to exploit the environment. “Mountain Pass” can also refer to how human civilizations can negotiate with nature and natural phenomena.Teh’s art practice highlights the urgency for us to understand nature and the environment in a new way, to stop taking nature for granted for humankind.
Chabib Duta Hapsoro
Residency and Exhibition of Zen Teh are supported by National Arts Council Singapore and Mizuma Gallery Singapore